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Managing Your Allergies During the Holiday Season

The winter holidays bring a lot with them – food, festive cheer, family gatherings… and a new set of allergy triggers.

In addition to the food allergens that lurk in many traditional holiday dishes, people with allergies will also face a variety of environmental allergens that could trigger symptoms. While those with pollen allergies may get a bit of a break during the winter months, the same isn’t true for people with mold, dust, or pet allergies, for example. (And people with food allergies need to be vigilant all year.)

There are things you can do to keep your allergies under control this winter, but first you need to know your triggers and how to properly manage them. Below you’ll find some of the most common holiday season allergy triggers and our advice for dealing with them.

Food. Winter holidays often mean dining away from home, whether it’s an office party, dinner at a friend or relative’s house, or eating at a restaurant. It can be easy to get caught up in the mood of a party and accidentally consume a food you are allergic to. If you have been prescribed an EpiPen, be sure to carry it with you at all times and instruct at least one other person in its use. Minor symptoms may be treated with over-the-counter medications and treatments. It is also important to have an allergy action plan in place before you attend events. (If you don’t have an allergy management plan, schedule an appointment with us today and we can help you create one.)

Decorations. Your holiday decorations spend most of the year packed away, collecting dust and potentially developing mold. When you bring these decorations out of storage you are stirring these allergens up and spreading them throughout your home. With new allergen particles in the air, you’re likely to begin experiencing symptoms like sneezing, itchy or red eyes, wheezing, coughing, and nasal congestion. You can prevent or reduce these symptoms by wiping down your decorations thoroughly before placing them around your home. When it’s time to pack the decorations back up for the year, wipe them down again and store them in airtight containers away from sources of moisture.

Christmas trees & wreaths. While some people are allergic to pine trees, there is a more common allergen that could be sneaking into your home, hidden on the branches of your live Christmas tree: mold. Christmas trees that are cut ahead of time may have been stored in a humid environment, allowing mold spores to form, and those spores can continue to increase in your home. (Pollen that has been stuck to the tree may also be released once inside your home.) To avoid these symptoms, wear gloves and long sleeves to prevent allergens from coming into contact with your skin. If possible, spray the tree down with a hose and let it dry before bringing it into the house.

Poinsettia. Did you know poinsettias are a member of the rubber tree family? These plants contain compounds similar to those found in latex, so they may cause an allergic reaction in someone that has a latex allergy. With regard to allergies, the best course of action when it comes to poinsettias is to not have them in your house or workplace at all.

Gifts. The holiday season is also a time for gift giving. If you are having trouble deciding what to buy for someone that has allergies, take a look at our list of holiday gift ideas for people with allergies. When it comes to receiving gifts, we recommend that you mention your allergies ahead of time with anyone you will be exchanging presents with so they know what to avoid getting you. If you receive an unexpected gift that you are allergic to, we recommend thanking the giver but explain why you are unable to accept it. (If you feel awkward about refusing the gift, you can accept it and donate it or give it to someone else who might appreciate it.)

Do you have questions about managing your allergies over the holidays? Don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We are here to help! Feel free to give us a call at 212-729-1283 or email us at info@hudsonallergy.com.

“What’s In This?” Spotting Hidden Allergens on Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is about gathering with friends and family to give thanks for the positive things in life. But it’s also about food – a lot of food.

For many people, the abundance of food at Thanksgiving only means loosening their belt and preparing for the inevitable “food coma.” For those with food allergies or intolerances, however, the holiday can be a little more complicated. A food allergy is a potentially life-threatening medical condition in which the immune system triggers an extreme reaction to harmless substances, including some Thanksgiving food staples and the ingredients in them.

Unfortunately for those with food allergies, many foods on the Thanksgiving table contain at least one of the “big 8” allergens – milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat and soy. With this in mind, we’ve put together this list of where you might find hidden allergens this Thanksgiving:

Turkey
The turkey is usually the star of the Thanksgiving table and you might think something as simple as turkey would be allergen-free, but there are a few places allergens might lurk. First, if this is the year Dad wants to experiment with deep frying the turkey and you have a peanut allergy, make sure he doesn’t fry in peanut oil. You should also read the ingredient labels in any seasoning packets or basting broths that might be used on the bird while it cooks. Soy is a common ingredient in vegetable soup stock and bouillon cubes that can be used to make broth or gravy. (You should also know how the gravy was prepared before you pour it over your plate: it could contain wheat.)

Potatoes
Those with dairy allergies need to know what’s in the mashed potatoes especially, as many potato recipes call for milk, cream, butter, or cheese. Potatoes can be prepared without any of these ingredients, but it’s important to check with your host before spooning mashed potatoes onto your plate. When it comes to sweet potatoes, some recipes will call for the addition of tree nuts. The nuts may be chopped, so even if you don’t see them on the dish immediately, they may still be present.

Stuffing
Stuffing (or “dressing,” depending on where you hail from) is as varied as the families that make it. It is generally made from bread, however, so those with a wheat allergy should steer clear. Some recipes call for tree nuts, vegetable soup stock (soy), and others may require the use of eggs as a binding ingredient. Family recipes are unfortunately a great place for allergens to hide, so you’ll want to double check with Great Aunt Rita on what she puts into her stuffing. No “secret” recipes allowed!

Cranberry Sauce
Cranberry sauce seems pretty straightforward, but in recent years there has been a trend to glam up this Thanksgiving staple by adding unusual ingredients, including tree nuts, other fruits, and even wine.

Vegetables
While whole cooked vegetables are likely safe, remember to check if any sauces, butter, or spices have been added to them. Also, be aware that some vegetable dish recipes call for the addition of tree nuts or dairy products (we’re looking at you, green bean casserole).

Salad Dressing
Know the ingredients of salad dressing before you put it on your leafy greens. Some dressings, including homemade versions, require adding fish, peanuts, or tree nuts.

Dessert
Dessert is often a pleasant end to a wonderful meal, but when you have food allergies you need to be cautious when it comes to these sweet treats. Many Thanksgiving dessert recipes require the addition of tree nuts, peanuts, or dairy. If the dessert was bought at a store, ask to read the ingredient label. If a family member or friend made the dessert, ask them if it contains what you are allergic to.

In addition to checking ingredient labels and asking about recipes, there is one rule we recommend you follow this Thanksgiving: when in doubt, leave it out! If you can’t be sure of how safe a food is for you to eat, err on the side of caution and leave it off your plate. If you’re worried there won’t be much you can eat on the table this holiday, make arrangements to bring your own allergy-friendly meal to enjoy at the same time as your family.

Do you have questions about managing your allergies this Thanksgiving? Don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We are here to help! Feel free to give us a call at 212-729-1283 or email us at info@hudsonallergy.com.

Move Over Black & Orange – Teal Is In for Halloween!

Halloween is just around the corner – but there’s no reason to be scared!

The Teal Pumpkin Project is in full swing again this year, promoting the inclusion of all trick-or-treaters and making Halloween safe for children with food allergies. Did you know there are nearly six million children in the United States with food allergies? Young children are affected the most, according to Food Allergy Research & Education organization. Many children consider Halloween their favorite holiday, but those with food allergies can feel left out of the fun. Thanks to the Teal Pumpkin Project, however, all children can participate in the holiday.

If you want to take part in the fun, you only need to do two things: display a teal-colored pumpkin at your door and offer allergy-friendly treats. Not sure what to pass out to trick-or-treaters? We suggest non-food items like bubbles, crayons, stickers, small toys, bracelets, and other child-safe and allergy-free alternatives. Once you’ve picked out your goodies and have your teal pumpkin ready, you can add your home to the FARE map to help parents and trick-or-treaters find you.

Don’t have time to paint your own pumpkin? The FARE website has a variety of free resources available, including printable flyers and signs that you can display instead of a pumpkin. (FARE also offers fun at-home activities you can do with your children, such as coloring sheets and pumpkin stencils.)

Are you planning to participate in the Teal Pumpkin Project this year? Send us a photo of your pumpkin or the goodies you’ll be handing out! We’d love to see your creativity on display.

Hudson Allergy is happy to participate in the Teal Pumpkin Project again this year. Check out our pictures below!

teal-pumpkin-collage-2017

Hudson Allergy continues NYC expansion, opening a new Grand Central Office, the brand’s third Manhattan Location

Hudson Allergy, the premier private allergy practice in New York City, announces the opening of its third office location just in time for the fall allergy season. The new Grand Central office space is located at 485 Lexington and will provide the same treatment options, superior care and amenities that patients have come to expect at Hudson Allergy’s existing offices in Tribeca and the Flatiron neighborhoods.

“The Grand Central office will allow us to conveniently treat patients who commute into the city through Grand Central and provide concierge service to professionals who highly value their time and health.” said Julie Kuriakose, MD; Co-Founder of Hudson Allergy.

Hudson Allergy is also pleased to announce the addition of a new physician to its highly skilled medical staff. Dr. Rushita Mehta, a board certified allergist and immunologist specializing in a variety of allergic conditions, asthma, angioedema, and immunodeficiency, is set to join the practice. Dr. Mehta is committed to providing excellent, evidence-based, and compassionate care for the patients of Hudson Allergy.

“We are proud of the reputation we have developed over the past five years, and are excited to introduce Dr. Mehta who is eager to bring our brand of service and culture to patients who want to visit us in Mid Manhattan. “ added Tim Mainardi, MD; Co-Founder of Hudson Allergy.

Hudson Allergy is currently accepting new patients at all three Manhattan locations, and does accept same day appointments and walk ins.

 

About Hudson Allergy

Founded and led by two Columbia University trained physicians, Hudson Allergy offers a full range of allergy, immunology and asthma services and provides the most advanced methods available. Hudson Allergy’s testing capabilities are second to none, and the practice is highly specialized in dealing with complex allergies.

Oral Allergy Syndrome: Triggers, Symptoms, and How to Avoid It

Does your mouth feel itchy after you eat certain raw fruit and vegetables?

You might have oral allergy syndrome (OAS), an allergic reaction near the mouth in response to proteins in certain raw fruits, vegetables, and tree nuts. The symptoms of OAS include a scratchy throat, itchy mouth, and swelling of the mouth, lips, tongue, and throat. Some people also report itchy ears. Unlike some other types of allergic reactions, the symptoms of OAS do not normally spread beyond the mouth area. Symptoms may subside once the fruit or vegetable is removed from the mouth.

The onset of OAS is less common in young children; it is more common in teens and young adults that have been eating these fruits and vegetables for years without any symptoms or problems.

What are the triggers of OAS?

The allergic reaction occurs because the proteins found in certain fruits, vegetables, and tree nuts are similar to those found in pollen.  As in other types of allergic reactions, in OAS the immune system is “confused” by these proteins and triggers a response in reaction to harmless substances. Patients may be more likely to experience a reaction if the pollen they are allergic to is in the air and they are breathing it in while eating the protein-similar (homologous) fruit, because the immune system has been primed by the pollen exposure to attack similar proteins in the fruit.

It is common for those with birch pollen allergies to experience OAS, but it can also affect those with allergies to alder tree, ragweed, mugwort and grass pollen. Some people may experience allergic symptoms when eating only one food, and others may have an allergic response to a variety of foods.

People with OAS may be able to eat the same fruits or vegetables in their cooked forms because the heating and cooking process distorts the proteins and the immune system no longer recognizes the food. When it comes to celery, nuts, and some berries, however, there may still be the possibility of a reaction even after cooking.

What foods may trigger a reaction for those with birch pollen allergies?

People with birch pollen allergies may experience OAS when they consume raw apples, apricots, cherries, carrots, almonds, hazelnuts, peaches, pears, fennel, green peppers, walnuts, kiwis, plums, prunes, beans, coriander, and nectarines, among others.

What foods may trigger a reaction for those with grass pollen allergies?

If you have grass pollen allergies, you may experience OAS when consuming oranges, peaches, melons, celery, and tomatoes, among others.

What foods may trigger a reaction for those with ragweed pollen allergies?

Cucumbers, melons, bananas, zucchini, and sunflower seeds may trigger OAS if you have ragweed pollen allergies.

How is OAS diagnosed?

An allergist can diagnose OAS after taking a patient’s medical history or after conducting an oral food challenge or a skin prick test. People that experience an OAS reaction that progresses beyond the mouth area may be at an increased risk for anaphylaxis. You should consult with an allergist to determine if you should carry an epinephrine auto-injector.

How can OAS be avoided or treated?

The best way to avoid experiencing OAS symptoms is to avoid trigger foods that may cross-react with your pollen allergies. You may also take oral antihistamine medications to relieve mild OAS symptoms. For some people, allergy shots can ameliorate the symptoms of OAS.

Do you have questions about managing your allergies? Don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We are here to help! Feel free to give us a call at 212-729-1283 or email us at info@hudsonallergy.com.

Hudson Allergy – Feature a Patient’s Business: Tanya Tracy – Private Chef

What is your name?
Tanya Tracy, Private Chef.

What is the name of your business, and your website URL?
Tanya Tracy, LLC, www.tanyatracy.com

When was your business founded and how long have you been working there?
2012 – since inception.

Please describe your business: What is your elevator pitch? Who is your ideal customer?
A private chef in the Hamptons, NYC and NJ with a love for tradition and a taste for the new. Tanya has a line of chutneys and cookies. As a chef, she specializes in multiple cuisines – Indian, Italian, French, Greek, Mediterranean, Turkish, Latin, and Pan American Cuisines. My ideal customer is someone who wants a unique experience of having someone come to their home and cook the cuisine of their choice – someone who wants to enjoy awesome food and service in the comfort of their home and doesn’t want to wait in line for a table.

Please describe your role in your business: What does your day-to-day look like?
Making food lists to shopping for groceries to chefing to baking to managing social media to gaining wholesale accounts for my chutneys and cookies line.

How has seeing an allergist (visiting Hudson Allergy) helped you be more productive in your profession?
It has helped me maintain my asthma so I can breathe better and able to work in the kitchen at a fast pace and multitask without running out of breath!

What advice do you want to give to anyone reading this?
Do NOT settle for average food and service! We live in a world where we are fortunate to enjoy foods, spices and ingredients from all over the world. We don’t have to visit India to have authentic Indian Food to go to Italy to enjoy great Pasta – we can enjoy it right here in the comfort of our home!

What is your favorite thing about NYC?
That everything is so accessible – I can walk to the best parks to my doctor’s visits to a Starbucks! That it is a melting pot that brings all of us together from different parts of the world with amazing foods and traditions to share!

Get Social with Tanya Tracy:
Instagram: @ttanyatracy
Twitter: @TTanyaTracy
Facebook: Tanya Tracy

I Do: Planning a Wedding When You Have Allergies

Here comes the bride! Wedding season is officially here, so you might be finding yourself with an overwhelming number of RSVP cards to fill out, or maybe you’ll be sending out invitations for your own nuptials. Couples planning their weddings already have enough to worry about (the caterer, the cake, Great Uncle Gus’s dance moves), but there’s one worry they might not even be thinking about for the big day: allergies.

Allergies should have no place at the sweetheart table – or any table in the venue, as a matter of fact. With a little bit of planning ahead, the bride and groom can avoid allergies altogether. Here are our tips for managing and preventing allergy symptoms on your wedding day:

Think about indoor vs. outdoor.
Many couples prefer to be surrounded by the beauty of nature while they say their vows, but if you’ve got serious outdoor allergies, it might be best to have your ceremony indoors. If you’re absolutely set on an outdoor venue, however, we recommend a few things:

  • Avoid having your outdoor ceremony during peak pollen season. Take a look at our month-to-month allergy calendar to see when particular pollens are at their worst.
  • Check the pollen count. If it’s a low count for the day, celebrate! If not, stock up on medications and the supplies you’ll need throughout the day. Pollen counts are highest in the early morning, so consider scheduling your ceremony for a little later in the day.
  • Start taking your medications a few weeks before the big day to prevent symptoms from developing. Allergy medication is more effective at preventing symptoms than it is at curing them.
  • If your wedding will be on a lawn, make sure the grass is cut at least a day or more before the ceremony. Mowing can release pollens into the air.
  • Let guests know that the wedding will be outside so they can prepare the same way you are.
  • Wear waterproof makeup in case of watery eyes caused by allergy symptoms. (Though you may be doing this anyway!)

Consider cross-reactions.
Pollen can do more than just cause you to sneeze or have watery, itchy eyes. Oral allergy syndrome is an allergic reaction caused by eating certain types of foods. The proteins in these foods mimic those found in certain pollens. For example, if you are allergic to birch pollen you may have a reaction to apples, carrots, almonds, peaches, cherries, and more. Different types of pollen allergies will cause different types of reactions to a variety of fruits and vegetables. The symptoms of oral allergy syndrome include an itchy mouth, scratchy throat, and swelling of the lips, mouth and tongue. Many people with OAS are able to eat the same reaction-causing foods as long as they are cooked. If you have OAS, discuss your “no go” foods with your caterer.

Have an allergy-safe meal option.
While people with OAS can eat the foods they are allergic to if they are cooked, this is not true for food allergies. Avoidance is the best management for someone with a food allergy. To accommodate guests with food allergies, meet with your caterer in advance to offer an allergy-safe meal option. The “Big 8” food allergens are milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat and soy. You’ll want a dish that avoids these ingredients. A vegetable-based dish with a milk- and butter-free sauce may fit the bill. Your caterer likely has experience in preparing meals for people with dietary restrictions, so make sure to discuss this with them ahead of time. The waitstaff should also be educated in the ingredients of the hors d’oeuvres and main dishes so that they can communicate allergen information to your guests.

Avoid scents.
Powerful scents can aggravate your allergy symptoms and even cause headaches. No bride or groom wants to deal with that on their wedding day! Faux candles are scent-free, with the benefit of also being fire-safe. If you can’t find low-fragrance flowers that you like, consider silk or paper flowers for your bouquets. Not only will they be allergy-friendly, they’ll also last forever. Be sure to stress the importance of being fragrance-free when you meet with your florist and the venue’s coordinator.

Clean in advance.
If your wedding involves an indoor space, make sure it is cleaned at least a day before the ceremony since cleaning will kick up dust and other airborne allergens that could irritate your symptoms. You should also use vacuums with a HEPA filter to trap more allergens while cleaning.

Do trial runs.
We don’t just mean the rehearsal. Meet up with your makeup artist to do a trial run of the makeup you’ll be wearing on the day to see if any of it has an adverse effect on your skin. If you’re having flowers, visit your florist to see if the arrangements are too fragrant or might aggravate your allergy symptoms. (Many flower pollens are too heavy and large to reach your sinuses, so with regard to flowers it is usually more about scent than it is about a pollen allergy.)

Choose allergy-friendly favors.
Skip the urge to give your guests chocolate and other food-based favors to take home. Instead, consider a small engraved item or something that won’t trap or conceal allergens.

If you have any questions about managing your allergies on your wedding day, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. Feel free to give us a call at 212-729-1283 or email us at info@hudsonallergy.com.

Want to see our wedding planning tips packaged in an infographic? Click here or on the image below to view our infographic on wedding allergies.

hudson-allergy-infographic-small-wedding

Hudson Allergy – Feature a Patient’s Business: Tolu Odunfa Dragone – Oddragone LLC

What is your name?
Tolu Odunfa Dragone.

What is the name of your business, and your website URL?
Oddragone LLC, www.oddragone.com

When was your business founded and how long have you been working there?
The business was established in 2015 when I was on maternity leave with my son and we have been working on design projects since then.

Please describe your business: What is your elevator pitch? Who is your ideal customer?
Oddragone is primarily an Interior Design Studio focused on Luxury Residential and Commercial projects of any size. We are happy to work on projects as small as a room in your home to a large hotel. I have worked the last 5 years in Luxury residential and Hotel design and have designed everything from a model apartment to a lounge on a cruise ship! Our ideal customer will trust us to design a space that is authentic, beautiful and functional.

Please describe your role in your business: What does your day-to-day look like?
I am the head designer at Oddragone, so I engage with clients; come up with the style direction/concept of the project; help prepare initial budgets; develop the concept into layouts, materials and furniture; liaise with architects and contractors; in some cases, purchase furniture and accessories; oversee the construction of the project; and style the completed space for move-in.

How has having your child seeing an allergist (visiting Hudson Allergy) helped you be more productive in your profession?
It has given me peace of mind so I can focus on my work. When we discovered that my son had a peanut allergy, I didn’t know how I would be able to protect him from a severe reaction – I was worried and I was clueless. The doctor was able to diagnose his allergen and provide a course of action/treatment in the case of accidental exposure/ ingestion. She also emphasized the importance of avoiding the allergen as much as possible and gave us useful information that would help us do so. Finally, she encouraged us to participate in any groundbreaking treatments that were offered at a local hospital towards helping eliminate or alleviate the allergic reactions.

What advice do you want to give to anyone reading this?
If you think you or a family member has allergies, see an allergist! You may not be sure – maybe you just have a feeling because of a weird redness on the skin or tummy troubles. Knowledge is power, so why not empower yourself and ultimately keep yourself and your children healthy.

What is your favorite thing about NYC?
New York is so full of possibility – that’s why there is so much of everything. I love the global feel and the access to so much amazing design, fashion, food and entertainment.

 
Get Social with Oddragone LLC:
Instagram: @oddragone