State of the Air 2015 – American Lung Association

A summary of the results of Contra Costa County

by Orit Gourgy Hacohen MD, PhD

The American Lung Association recently published their annual report regarding the air quality in the United States. The current report utilizes data from 2011, 2012 and 2013 to grade the Ozone and Particle pollution levels in the different counties and metropolitans nationwide.

 

The results for Contra Costa County are:

Ozone levels – Grade C

24 hour particle pollution – Grade C

Annual particle pollution – Pass

Highlights for our county:

Compared to last year’s report (for the years 2010-2012) there were fewer high ozone days and the same amount of 24-hour particle pollution days (see below the color classification and explanation regarding the grading system).

 

Read the entire article here State of the air 2015

Warm Spring Weather Raises Allergy Concerns

See Dr. Anand and Allergy & Asthma Medical Group in the news on NBC Bay Area discussing how the warm weather raises allergy concerns.

http://www.nbcbayarea.com/video/#!/on-air/as-seen-on/Warm-Spring-Weather-Raises-Allergy-Concerns/254279251

Hay Fever Medication treatment 101

Have your allergies kicked in? Here is some information to help out during the next 1-2 months.

First don’t forget some basic measures like allergen avoidance and nasal saline rinses. Some basic measures for reduction of pollen exposure include wearing sunglasses while outside, driving with windows closed, showering before bed, keeping bedroom windows closed and an air filter running, and avoidance of prolonged outdoor time during the height of the season.

For allergy symptoms there are a variety of over the counter medications and prescription medicines that can help. I’ve outlined some of the basic classes of medicines used to treat allergies. The information below can serve as a reference. The best medicine or medicine combination for you depends on your symptoms, medical history, and discussion with your Allergy Care Provider.

We are all most familiar with antihistamine pills or liquids. These medications block the effect of histamines on the tissues of the eyes, nose, mouth, throat, and skin. Histamines are released during an allergy attack and cause people to have itching, sneezing, runny nose, eye swelling, and post nasal drip. Antihistamine pills and liquids are available both over the counter and by prescription. Some non-drowsy “second generation antihistamines” are available over the counter and include Loratadine and Fexofenadine. Cetirizine is generally nonsedating although 10% of people can still feel sleepy when they take it. The over the counter “first generation antihistamines” include Diphenhydramine and Chlorpheniramine. The first generation antihistamines will cause drowsiness.

There are a variety of oral decongestants that are also available over or behind the counter. These medications relieve nasal congestion and sinus pressure. Decongestants can be sold by themselves or put together with antihistamines. Patients with certain medical conditions such as high blood pressure or heart disease, are advised against taking these medications.

Nasal steroids decrease the allergic inflammation in the nose. Nasal steroids help symptoms of nasal congestion and sinus pressure, post nasal drip, nasal itching and eye itching. Most are available by prescription but over the past year one has gone over the counter. These medications in general take a couple weeks to work their best and must be used correctly to avoid bloody noses.

Nasal antihistamines are available by prescription and can help with nasal congestion, nasal itching, post nasal drip, runny nose and eye itching.

For eye issues there are also several treatments. Artificial tears are helpful in washing out pollens and soothing itchy eyes. Cool compresses also are of benefit. In addition antihistamines and Cromolyn (stabilizes allergic cells) are available in an eye drop form. Some of these eye drops are available over the counter and some are prescription only. These medications treat eye itching, swelling and redness.

Leukotriene modifiers (montelukast) also help reduce the effects of chemicals released during an allergic reaction. These medicines are available by prescription and help with nasal drip, itching, sneezing, and cough. These can also be used for asthma treatment.

On occasion, some people will need a short course of oral steroids to control their symptoms. This treatment is reserved for patients with severe symptoms who have not responded to the usual allergy treatment medicines. This administration of oral steroids requires the supervision of a health care provider.

To read further information you can visit

–       http://www.aaaai.org/conditions-and-treatments/library/allergy-library/hay-fever-medications.aspx

–       http://www.acaai.org/allergist/allergies/Treatment/Pages/default.aspx

 

Seasonal Allergy or “Hay Fever”

Seasonal allergy or “hay fever” is a medical condition that presents as sneezing, runny and stuffy nose, itchy eyes and throat, ear itching and popping, and cough in response seasonal exposure to pollens (trees, grasses, weeds) or molds. All allergies can interfere with sleep quality and make it difficult for adults and children to function during the day. The allergy is the result of a misdirected immune system. Normally when people inhale pollens and molds, they should have no symptoms. When people have allergies, their immune system makes an abnormal response such that exposure to these substances triggers the above mentioned symptoms. Seasonal allergies can occur at any time of life and can get better or worse throughout one’s life. Approximately 20-30% of the population has allergies. Allergies can lead to some other medical conditions including chronic ear or sinus infections, cough, and asthma.

Spring Hay Fever 101

It’s that time of year again! The weather is warm, the days are longer, and allergy season is upon us. Do stuffed up noses, itchy eyes, and sneezing fits plaque you and your family? Congratulations, you are in growing population of allergy sufferers!  The highest East Bay tree and grass pollen counts are present Mid-March through Mid-June.  In general the pollen season kicks off with Alder and Cedar/Juniper tree pollination in early March, evolves to Ash, Oak, Sycamore, Mulberry and Maple tree pollination in later March-mid April. The season finishes off with the granddaddies of them all, grass and olive tree pollen, mid-April through early June.

You don’t need to live in a bubble during this time of year but you do need to take some precautions. First of all, this may not be the time to plan an outdoor camping trip where long periods of outdoor exposure will occur.  If you do spend time outdoors, be sure to shower and wash your hair before going to bed and wear sunglasses to keep pollen directly out of the eyes. Keep your windows closed during this time of year and turn on that air filter. This is also the time when you will want to keep your car air conditioner on instead of rolling down the windows. Finally, you can use over the counter nasal saline sprays and rinses to help remove any pollen on the inside lining of the nose. Children under the age of 5 will not be able to tolerate the rinsing, but will be more comfortable with the saline spray.

This is also the time of year when you may need to pull out those allergy meds. See your next posting for more info on this.