It’s been a brutal season if you’re allergic to grass pollen, especially where your eyes are concerned. Dr. Jackie Eghrari-Sabet shares how you can tell whether your eyes are affected by allergies, or you might have an infection.
Pinkeye (also called conjunctivitis) is redness and swelling of the conjunctiva, the mucous membrane that lines the eyelid and eye surface. The lining of the eye is usually clear. If irritation or infection occurs, the lining becomes red and swollen.
In a NBC Washington video, Dr. Jackie Eghrari-Sabet, of Family ENT, Allergy & Asthma Center in Gaithersburg, Maryland, explains why spring means joint pain and headaches and how climate change causes more allergies.
Sinusitis: Sinus infections are often due to allergy run amok and gone out of control
Trigger a migraine: Allergies that flare can trigger migraines (so bad that you will throw up and grab your head)
Asthma: Allergy can absolutely trigger asthma attack.
DUI: taking the wrong allergy meds can get you arrested for driving under the influence (of a sedating med) so don’t just think you can pop a Benadryl.
Failing a test /get sent to the principals office: Allergy unchecked makes it hard for your child to learn while they are blowing their nose and not paying attention to class. It effects your hearing (clogged ears) and makes you irritable hence you get sent to principals office.
Sleep disturbance: all that clogged nose makes it so you don’t sleep, hence the next day you are a wreck.
Depression: allergy increases risk of depression.
Short stature: all that poor sleep means you don’t release growth hormone, hence a child wont grow as well or as fast.
Pink eye/ vision problems: all that itching in your eye can get you infected.
Effect your sex life — 85% of adults with allergy says it does effect their sex life. Why? All that wheezing and sneezing (not to mention snoring and snorting) makes you “not in the mood” and most definitely not attractive.
So the point being — go get your allergies under control at the beginning of the season, don’t just let it run its course. Its really nothing to sneeze at, it is so much more than a runny nose.
Jackie Eghrari-Sabet, an allergist with Family ENT, Allergy & Asthma Center in Gaithersburg, Md was quoted by USA Today in a new article on non-prescription allergy relief:
Spring has barely sprung, but in most of the country, spring allergy season — triggered by the first stirrings of tree pollen — is well under way.
You can tell by the sniffles and sneezes of the afflicted. But you can also tell by the ads: TV spots selling remedies for drippy, congested noses, itchy eyes and other symptoms are in heavy rotation.
New this year: ads for Flonase, a nasal steroid spray from GlaxoSmithKline that just became available over the counter. It joins Sanofi’s Nasacort, a spray in the same class that went from prescription to over-the-counter status a year ago. And they both sit on store shelves next to antihistamines such as Claritin, Allegra and Zyrtec that were prescription drugs just a few years ago. Older over-the-counter antihistamines, such as Benadryl, and decongestants, such as Sudafed and Afrin, remain available as well.
Don’t expect the ads to help you sort out what might work best for you. Here’s what some top allergists say you need to know about these non-prescription options.
Believe (some of) the hype about the newly-accessible steroid nasal sprays.
These drugs work by fighting inflammation and they are in the “single most effective drug class” for treating nasal allergies, according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. Other expert groups have made similar statements. “These are first-line treatments” that can prevent allergy symptoms, not just treat them, says Jackie Eghrari-Sabet, an allergist in Gaithersburg, Md.
But that does not mean they work for everyone, says James Sublett, a Louisville allergist and president of the allergy group. People with mild to moderate symptoms have the best chance of full relief, he says.
Possible side effects include nasal irritation and nose bleeds. Labels caution that some children using the sprays may experience slower growth, so a doctor should be consulted if a child needs them for more than two months.
Expect to pay more.
When prescription drugs are first available over the counter, most consumers end up paying more, because their insurers no longer cover the cost. The non-prescription steroid nasal sprays are selling for about $17 to $23 for a one-month supply (at the typical two-squirts per nostril adult starting dose). Worth knowing: so far, insurers have continued to pay for similar prescription sprays, Eghrari-Sabet says. The various sprays have never been studied head to head, so it’s impossible to say whether they vary in effectiveness, she says.
There’s a right way to use these sprays.
They should be used daily during your vulnerable season or seasons, ideally starting before symptoms do, Eghrari-Sabet says. The idea is “to turn an army of inflammatory cells around before they recruit more soldiers,” she says.
It’s also important to administer the sprays correctly, so that they end up inside your nasal passages, not just your nose, where they might cause irritation, Sublett says. Packages contain instructions, and Sublett has an added tip: bend over and look at your toes while holding the bottle up and squirting.
Antihistamines still have a role.
These drugs target histamine. That’s a chemical your body releases, causing sneezing, a runny nose and itchy eyes, when you come in contact with allergy-triggering substances. Antihistamines work faster than the steroid sprays, which can take a week or so to reach full effectiveness. They also can be cheaper, because they are available in store-brand versions. For example, Walmart sells Equate loratadine tablets (the same active ingredient as Claritin) for about $7 for 60 24-hour doses
Antihistamines make perfect sense for someone who suffers a few sneezy days each season and doesn’t want to use a spray for weeks or months, Eghrari-Sabet says. Look for one that does not make you sleepy, Sublett says. It’s a myth, he adds, that older, sedating antihistamines, such as Benadryl, are extra effective against nasal allergies.
Be careful with decongestants.
Decongestants such as Sudafed work by shrinking swollen blood vessels in the nose. They can raise blood pressure and cause jitters, and some people are more susceptible than others. Some decongestant sprays such as Afrin — unlike the steroid nasal sprays — can be used for just few days at a time, because they otherwise cause rebound symptoms.
So use these medications sparingly, Sublett says.
Keep your medical providers in the loop.
Over-the-counter treatments should not take the place of professional care — especially if you have never been formally diagnosed with allergies, if you have additional medical problems or if your symptoms persist or worsen, Eghrari-Sabet and Sublett say. An allergist can test you to find out what’s causing your symptoms and offer additional treatments. Those include allergy shots and, for a few patients who qualify, newer immunotherapy pills that desensitize people to grass and ragweed pollens.
Also important to remember: While medications can be helpful, the first rule of allergy control is to avoid the substances that make you sniffle and sneeze. If you are allergic to mold spores or to pollen from trees, grasses or ragweed, that means knowing when levels are high (by checking pollen.com or the National Allergy Bureau) and then taking steps such as these recommended by the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and & Immunology:
• Keep windows closed at home and in your car.
• Use air conditioning if possible.
• Try to stay indoors, and avoid mowing lawns or raking leaves.
• If you need to be outside for a long period, wear a pollen mask.
• After time outside, take a shower, shampoo your hair and change clothes
Are the Maryland budget cut short sighted? Does your zip code matter? Dr. Jackie refers to a Johns Hopkins asthma study, showing that race, ethnicity and income are the biggest risk factors for asthma.
Asthma in inner city linked to demographics, not urban factors
High asthma incidence in inner-city areas may be due to demographic factors rather than living in urban neighborhoods, according to study findings in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.
Researchers analyzed data from the 2009-2011 National Health Interview Survey, the US Census and the National Center for Health Statistics for 23,065 children aged 6 to 17 years.
“Current asthma prevalence was significantly higher among blacks (17.1%) and Puerto Ricans (19.8%), compared with whites (9.6%), Hispanics (8.8%) and Asians (8.1%).”
“Black race and Puerto Rican ethnicity remained strong independent predictors of current asthma, even when neighborhood-level poverty, urban/rural status, region, sex, age and birth in the United States were included in the model.”
Here you can read our most recent patients’ reviews!
I have had allergies and asthma virtually my entire life. I have been to multiple allergy offices while living in three different states. I have to say overall this is the best. Great doctor, P.A. and staff. Friendly and professional. Due to their care this is the best I have felt since I can remember. ~Chris T., Google+ Review
I have known Dr. Jackie for a number of years, so when my daughter was discovered to have food allergies at age 1.5 (she is now 15), I took her directly to Jackie. We have been going to her ever since. My daughter’s allergies to peanuts and a variety of tree nuts are fairly severe, and Dr. Jackie has been of enormous help for years, both with testing and advice. I trust her completely. You can trust her too.
~ Roya B., Yelp Review, 8/19/2014
Very knowledgeable and a great doctor. I have known about her for many years and have only heard great things.
~Farah F., Yelp Review, 8/7/2014
Dr. Eghrari-Sabet is a superb allergy doctor, who helped me and my family. I really appreciated her great knowledge of the subject and willingness to go extra mile in helping her patients.I recommend her as the best allergy doctor. ~Aleksey S., Google+ Review
Very professional office. Doctors are amazing. I highly recommend this practice. ~Barney B., Yelp Reviw
I came to see Dr. Eghrari-Sabet shortly after I had a bad allergic reaction. After doing some research and with recommendation from my PCP I chose to see Dr. Eghrari-Sabet. Her and the office staff were extremely welcoming and made my experience at Family ENT, Allergy & Asthma Center very positive. I would highly recommend anyone with allergies (especially ones as severe as mine) to make an appointment with Dr. Eghrari-Sabet! ~Ellie B., Yelp Review
Love this practice! Very knowledgeable. ~ John M. Google+ review
Dr. Egrahri is wonderful! I have been going to this practice for almost a year and everyone there is wonderful! I’ve seen both doctors and the nurse practitioner – all excellent. Dr. Egrahri is currently treating me for chronic idiopathic hives, which is a very frustrating condition. But with Dr. Egrahri I feel like she is really in this with me. She always takes her time at our appointments and explains everything to me very clearly. I never feel rushed. She has even taken time out of her day to meet with me when I’ve only come in for an allergy shot. She truly makes you feel like you are her #1 priority.
The office staff there is also great. During one visit I had my five year old daughter with me. I needed to wait at the office for two hours to ensure I didn’t have an adverse reaction to my first allergy shot. The receptionist offered to put a kids show on the tv to keep my daughter occupied! What a nice thing to do! It made the wait easier on both of us.
I truly couldn’t recommend Dr. Egrahri and her staff more!! They are top notch!! ~Erin O., Yelp Review
My older daughter had allergy-like symptoms so I decided to take her to the best allergy doctor I know. Not surprisingly, she was treated promptly and professionally. The prescribed medication worked like a charm! I highly recommend this doctor and her office! ~Mitko G., Yelp Review
I have been a patient for quite a while now. I got skin tested at my first visit, i suffer from terrible seasonal allergies and Dr. Eghrari at the time recommended me to start allergy shots. I didn’t hesitate. I am really satisfied ever since i decided to start shots, my allergies are well under control. The doctors and NP are very friendly so as the staff and the people at the front desk, are so welcoming. ~Gabriella T., Yelp Review
Dr Eghrari-Sabet has been a life saver to our family. I disturbed a bees’ nest and was stung 17 times one summer. Dr E-S took an urgent call from me regarding symptoms I was feeling and prescribed the right medicine to relieve those symptoms.. Ten days later, I was very slick, pain in all my joints, and Dr. E-S immediately diagnosed that problem as “serum sickness” caused by the body’s reaction to the bee stings. Everyone else thought it was the flu. She was right. Dr. E-S encouraged me to keep an epi-pen close by (even though I was not allergic to bees) in case I was stung again. Sometimes, you can develop an allergy after being stung. Sure enough, I was stung by a bull-hornet months later and it put me into shock. Thanks to Dr. E-S, I was ready. Always grateful for the extra care and Dr E-S’s personal interest in her patients. ~Jenifer A., Yelp Review
I have been a patient with the practice for 2 years. My allergies have been under control since I started my allergy injections. The doctors , nurse practitioner, and staff are very welcoming and informal. I am very impress with this practice. Keep up the good work FAAC! ~Gaby C., Yelp Review
Words can’t describe my appreciation for the care you provide to my father. As suspected my fathers condition was complicated and he has a few issues going on at the same time. You took your time to explain to us all aspects of your diagnosis medically as well as in terms that we could understand and relate too. You were extremely knowledgeable at more than your field of study/speciality. His apt was at 3pm and yet you were still able to write your observation and communicate your recommendations to his primary care physician in time for his 8:45am apt the next day. Thats in its self is impressive!!! We left your office saying there needs to be more professional, caring, and most important knowledgeable doctors in this world. A great big THANK YOU! Denise and Oscar. ~RateMD Review
Awesome Doctors, and staff. Very professional, honest, knowledgeable, and respectful. ~RateMD Review
Dr. Eghrari-Sabet is outstanding. She is clearly very well educated and experienced in dealing with asthma as well as allergies. She has provided excellent service for my mother, my daughter and myself. She was able to properly diagnose each of us and prescribed us with medications that actually produced wonderful results. She is very cordial and my mom could not stop talking about how pleasant the visit at Dr. Eghrari-Sabet’s was. She is clearly very experienced in dealing with allergies and asthma among children and that makes enormous difference for any parent. Her staff is also very friendly. I highly recommend Dr. Eghrari-Sabet for allergy and asthma diagnostics and treatment for anyone in the area! ~RateMD review
Staff very helpful. Dr. E was the best. Listened and asked questions to get to the bottom of my issue. Very pleasant experience from appt to prescription. ~RateMD Review
According to a new study, the most depressed group is women between ages 40 and 59 — the women who have the most juggling to do. The study also shows increasing numbers of young people, particularly in college, are suffering from mental illness, including clinical depression. Disturbingly, only 35% of those with “severe” depression had seen a mental health professional in the past year.
Dr. Jackie also talks about the seasonal affective disorder (SAD) from which many people suffer, typical this time of the year and exacerbated by the holidays, the cold weather and the incoming pressure of tax preparation.
Our goal is to deliver compassionate cutting-edge allergy care for the whole family. After conducting a comprehensive health history and exam, we will develop a personalized treatment plan designed to give you the freedom you seek from your condition.
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