It’s Ragweed Season!

Freedom Allergy, Asthma and Allergy, Seasonal Allergies, Pediatric Allergist, Peachtree City, Fayetteville, Marietta, Georgia

Ragweed

It’s ragweed season!  Symptoms of a ragweed allergy include: sneezing, a runny or stuffy nose, itchy skin, eye irritation, sleep disruption, and symptoms of asthma.

About 10%-30% of Americans suffer from allergic rhinitis, or hay fever.  A single ragweed plant can send billions of grains of pollen into the air over the course of a single ragweed season.  Ragweed season usually starts at the end of the summer and ends at the first sign of frost (usually mid-August through October).

If you are experiencing ragweed allergy symptoms, here are a few tips to help minimize your ragweed exposure:

  1. Stay inside when the pollen count is high (check pollen counts in your area here: http://www.aaaai.org/global/nab-pollen-counts/south-atlantic-region)
  2. Keep your house and car windows closed.  Run your air conditioner or air purifier
  3. Change your clothes after being outside
  4. Shower at the end of the day

If your symptoms are affecting your daily life, try:

  1. Nasal sprays
  2. Daily anti-histamines
  3. Decongestants
  4. Immunotherapy (allergy shots)
  5. Make an appointment with your allergist if you need a proper diagnosis or need prescription-strength medications

Read here for more information about Ragweed allergies:

http://asthmaandallergies.org/asthma-allergies/ragweed-allergy/

My Peanut OIT Experience – From Kaitlyn

Pediatric Allergist, Peachtree City, Fayetteville, Marietta, Georgia, Oral Immunotherapy

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My Peanut OIT Experience

– written by Kaitlyn L.

When I first started OIT I was 9. I didn’t really understand how severe my allergy was. All I really knew was that if i came in contact with a peanut I would die in a few seconds. We used to go to Helen in our camper and they had a little shop that served boiled peanuts. I could smell them before I saw them, that’s how allergic I was. When Dr. Agrawal first tested me he told my mom my allergy was really ‘’off the charts’’.

The night before I started OIT I didn’t exactly sleep at all. I was up all night with my stomach killing me. We had to start at the hospital in case something went wrong. Dr. Agrawal told my mom to pack lots of entertainment because it would take all day. The day before I cried all day because I was so scared. I didn’t get that they were trying to get me to eat something they told me not to even get near it my entire life. And now they were telling me to eat it, I didn’t get it. And thats where it all started.

First Day of OIT

First Day of OIT

When we got to the hospital I just about squeezed Mr. Bunny’s arm off I was so nervous. I was shaking like crazy. We went back to the room and when Dr. Argawal brought in the first dose I start crying like crazy. When I finally calmed down I took the first bit of peanut solution. I hated the flavor. I had to eat a meal before I came even though I wasn’t hungry. Most people who start OIT make it a lot further than I did. When we got back from the hospital my sister ‘’Kember’’ and grandmother ‘’Nan Nan’’ greeted me with flowers and balloons. After the hugs I went straight to bed. I was super tired.

Every morning at breakfast we talk about the day’s schedule and decide what time is best to take my dose. We choose a time based on my schedule that will give me 2 hours to rest. If I have softball that night, then I usually take it before school at breakfast. But during the summer I can take it later or during lunch since it is so hot outside. I have to eat a big meal before I take my dose and then I take my pills. These pills make sure I don’t get sick. I eat the peanut(s) and drink lots of water so my throat doesn’t get tingly. Then I usually draw or watch t.v. and rest until my two hour rest period is over. I do this every single day. It kind of gets old.  Every two weeks I updose to a higher level of peanuts at Dr. Agrawal’s office. Before every updose, my sister, my mom and me always estimate how much peanut I will go to at the appointment. Both, Ms. Danielle and Ms. Carla are super sweet.

First Cupcake from a Bakery

First Cupcake from a Bakery

It is really cool now, but when I started it didn’t seem very important. But now it’s changed everything. My school experience, my food experience, it’s even made me and my family closer. I’ve almost made it to maintenance which is super exciting for me and my family. Because I was off the charts when I started but now I’m eating 4 peanuts! And, I get it is SUPER scary when you start. But it gets a lot better. I’m now allowed to eat at bakeries, candy stores, and many more things I can’t even count that I could NEVER do before. Thanks so much Dr. Argawal! He is the very best and sweetest allergist there is. He has inspired me to become an allergist when I grow up.

A Family’s Journey from India to Pursue Food Allergy Treatment

Pediatric Allergist, Peachtree City, Fayetteville, Marietta, Georgia

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It has been difficult for the Kumar family raising a daughter with food allergies in India where food allergies are not common or accepted.  When Laxmi was five months old, her parents discovered she was allergic to certain foods when her face swelled up, when she developed hives, and when she projectile vomited her baby cereal.  After testing, they uncovered the extent of her food allergies: she was allergic to milk, egg, wheat, peanuts, and all tree nuts.  Any exposure to those foods would result in an allergic reaction.  It was difficult to manage all the allergies in a country where food allergies are not prevalent.  As a result, Laxmi’s mom chose to stop pursuing her PhD in Biotechnology to stay home and care for her daughter.  She decided to homeschool her daughter and make each meal from scratch.

However, Mr. and Mrs. Kumar were intent on finding treatments or possible food allergy cures for their daughter.  Through online allergy support groups, Mrs. Kumar discovered Oral Immunotherapy (OIT), a treatment that desensitizes the body to a food allergen by daily ingestion of the food in increasing amounts.  After thorough research, they believed this treatment was the path they felt was the safest and most effective way to tackle Laxmi’s allergies to help her live a life without the restrictions of food allergies.

Unfortunately for the Kumar family, OIT is not offered in India.  Therefore, after much consideration and planning over five years, they decided to travel to the United States to pursue OIT.  Out of the 60 OIT allergists available in the United States, they chose Dr. Agrawal at Freedom Allergy in Peachtree City, Georgia to be their OIT allergist.  They researched and interviewed various other allergists, and felt that he was the best doctor for them due to his patient nature, knowledge, availability, and concern for all his patients.  With careful planning, they have moved to Georgia to pursue OIT treatment for 3 months.  Their goal is to return to the U.S. several times over the course of the next year to complete OIT for all of Laxmi’s allergens, and for her to be able to live a freer and safer life.

Laxmi is a courageous girl as she is dosing daily with her known allergens.  She is currently consuming a total of 0.24 ml of milk every day, an amount that could have caused anaphylaxis in the past.  When asked what she most looks forward to eating, she says she wants to eat ice cream, cakes, and chocolates, just like any regular kid.

This family made the move to a different country, to an unfamiliar city, with no friends or family nearby, to secure a better life for their daughter.  They chose the best doctor for their child, and they are excited for the future.

** names have been changed for the privacy of the family

Back to School Allergy and Asthma Tips

Pediatric Allergist, Peachtree City, Fayetteville, Georgia

ACAAI Back to School Tips

With the new school year now underway, you may consider these back-to-school allergy and asthma tips from the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. These simple tools can help set up you and your child for success in this exciting new school year!

Teacher Teacher – While your child’s teacher is the first line of defense at school in helping reduce sniffing, wheezing and sneezing, the right systems must be established at home before they get on the bus. If your child takes an allergy or asthma medication, make sure they take them at home, and that good avoidance measures are set up to keep their triggers under control. If your child’s teacher knows your child’s triggers, she may be able to help them steer clear in the classroom as well.

Too cool for school? Nah. – Discuss how to handle emergencies with the school principal and school nurse. Since 2010, all 50 states have laws protecting students’ rights to carry and use asthma and anaphylaxis medications at school. Children who are at risk for a life-threatening allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) from certain foods or insect stings should have epinephrine auto-injectors immediately available for treatment.  Be sure your child and school staff know how to use emergency medications. Continue reading

Fall Allergies Are Upon Us

Allergy and Asthma Doctor, Atlanta, Georgia  

Freedom Allergy, Fall Allergies Ragweed, Atlanta, Georgia

Autumn is rapidly approaching. As backpacks fill with homework, football games kick off, and the Georgia heat simmers down, many know ragweed season also lurks around the corner. Ragweed grows most predominantly in the southern, northeastern and midwestern United States, and thrives in warm, humid environments. According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, 75% of people who are allergic to pollen-producing plants also suffer ragweed allergies. Ragweed emits a particularly large amount of pollen – up to 1 billion pollen grains per plant – and the pollen can extend up to two miles into the atmosphere. Ten to twenty percent of Americans suffer ragweed allergy flare-ups near the end of the summer, usually peaking around early September, and these flare-ups can lead to asthma exacerbations, headaches, and chronic sinusitis. With fall allergy season already upon us, do not wait to schedule an appointment with your board certified allergist, who can help keep your allergies and asthma under control.

Read more about ragweed allergies here.

Resources:

Costa S. Are Your Allergies Ready for a Relocation? U.S. News & World Report.  Aug 2014. http://health.usnews.com/health-news/health-wellness/articles/2015/08/14/are-your-allergies-ready-for-a-relocation.

Pongdee T. Ragweed Plants Packed with Pollen. American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology. Aug 2011. http://www.aaaai.org/Aaaai/media/MediaLibrary/PDF%20Documents/Libraries/EL-ragweed-patient.pdf.

Back to School with Food Allergies

Pediatric Food Allergy Doctor, Peachtree City, Fayetteville, Georgia

Back to School

School is right around the corner, and along with the excitement of new clothes, bright supplies, and fresh possibilities, your child may also have a few butterflies in the stomach. For a parent of a child with a severe food allergy, you may have some butterflies of your own. Many parents worry their child will accidentally eat a food they’re allergic to while at school, and suffer a severe reaction. Setting your child up at school with an epinephrine auto-injector (EAI) is important, but this also requires staff and personnel who can recognize an anaphylactic reaction and can correctly use the EAI.

Children need help from adults in managing their food allergies. One survey out of Mississippi schools revealed 97% had at least one child with a food allergy, but only 30% had action plans for these students. Schools were more likely to have action plans when the school nurse had received appropriate information from a physician. If you need refreshing on how to use your EAI, or would like assistance in educating personnel at your child’s school on recognizing and treating anaphylaxis, call our office today. Anaphylaxis action plans can also be written by physicians and distributed in daycares and schools.

Reference: O’Keefe AW, De Schryver S, Mill J, et al. Diagnosis and Management of Food Allergies: New and Emerging Options: A Systematic Review. Journal of Asthma and Allergy. 2014;7:141-164.

Allergist Versus Ear, Nose, and Throat Doctor

Allergy Doctor, Peachtree City, Atlanta, Georgia

Freedom Allergy, Ruchir Agrawal, Peachtree City, Fayetteville, Georgia

Why Choose an Allergist for your Allergy and Asthma?

Allergies and asthma are both chronic conditions, and warrant visiting a specialist for the best management. However, with so many specialists out there, how do you know which one to choose?  Read the FAQ below.

My allergies bother my ears, nose and throat – doesn’t this mean I should see an ear, nose and throat doctor?

Many times, patients go directly to an ear, nose and throat (ENT) doctor for their allergy symptoms. After all, don’t allergies bother your ears, nose and throat?

Ear, Nose and Throat doctors are surgeons who specialize mainly in structural problems that can be corrected with surgery. But many of these problems, such as difficulty breathing through the nose, or having a raspy voice or having trouble hearing, are actually due to allergies.  Allergies, eczema, and asthma are all chronic conditions that fall under the same umbrella of allergy medicine, and more than 50% of sinus problems are caused by allergies.  The other 50% are often caused by a combination of both allergy and non-allergy related problems. Continue reading

Georgia Spring Allergies

Seasonal Allergies, Allergy Doctor, Atlanta, Peachtree City, Georgia

Atlanta jumped 12 spots last year on the Allergy and Asthma Foundation of America’s (AAFA) list of Top 100 Most Challenging Places to Live with Spring Allergies.  Atlanta rose from #72 in 2013 to #60 in 2014 on this AAFA Allergy Capitals list.  As trees blossom and grasses sprout this year, it helps to know which plants peak during which months (see the chart below).  Talk to your allergist today to plan your best method of defense against these allergens!

Allergy Doctor Atlanta Peachtree City Georgia

Why See a Pediatric Allergist?

Allergy Doctor for Kids, Atlanta, Peachtree City, Georgia

Pediatric Allergist  Atlanta Georgia

Children with allergies and asthma often suffer much more than a stuffy nose, itchy eyes, or shortness of breath.  Kids with allergies can experience emotional stress, sleeping difficulties, academic troubles and peer conflicts.  Even young children with food allergies can worry about eating foods that may be cross-contaminated with an allergen, and their parents experience their own unique challenges, searching for foods free of allergens.  Pediatric allergists can recognize and navigate through these unique stressors.  Pediatric allergists understand what types of treatments are safe for children, and can develop action plans for schools.  They are trained to help children with allergies lead healthy and enjoyable lives.

Pediatric allergists complete medical school, plus three to four years of pediatric residency training.  After that, they must obtain board certification with the American Board of Pediatrics, and complete two more years of an allergy-immunology fellowship.  Dr. Agrawal specializes in both pediatric and adult allergies and asthma.  He is board certified with the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, and with the American Board of Pediatrics.  He is happy to care for you and your entire family!

Click here to learn more about the importance of pediatric allergists!