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Answering your questions on Allergies and Asthma

Answers to your questions about Allergies and Asthma

Our Answer Desk phones were busy Monday evening as a panel answered your questions about the seasonal spike in allergy and asthma issues. Here's some of what they had to say:

Ragweed is being blamed right now, but Dr. Mariah Peretti, allergist at Asthma and Allergy Associates, says the pollen can trigger more than runny noses and itchy eyes. Pollen allergies can also trigger food reactions, like itchy mouth from eating banana or melon. She points out that the reaction is often only to raw fruit (raw bananas may cause reactions, while cooked bananas, as in banana bread will not).

Because it's been warm so late in the season, insect bites and bee stings are still an issue. Dr. Michael Sheehan, allergist-immunologist at Allergy Asthma Rheumatology Asscociates, points out that bee stings will often cause redness and maybe swelling where the sting happened, but the real concern is when there are symptoms in other parts of the body, like breathing difficulties, hives, swelling, nausea and tightness of the throat. The more severe symptoms should prompt a trip to the emergency room. And Dr. Sheehan says if it happens, there's a 50% chance that it will happen again if there's another sting, and a doctor will likely suggest carrying medication just in case.

A survey by Excellus BlueCross BlueShield shows there's a spike in child asthma cases in September here in Central NY. Excellus Medical Director Dr. Nicholas Massa, a pediatrician at Upstate Medical Center, says every child with asthma (about 20% of children under 18) should have a written asthma action plan, to be shared with babysitters and caregivers, teachers and the child , when old enough to understand it. The plan should include when to give medication, when to call the doctor and when to use the emergency room. Massa says it's also important to keep unexpired medication on hand.

Preparedness was also emphasized by Respiratory Therapist Joe Nicoletti, clinical director at St. Joseph's Hospital/Franciscan Healthcare. He says patients may get stabilized during a hospital stay, but it's important they stay on the medication and lifestyle changes prescribed when they are back on their own, that the healthcare 'system' is changing and people need to be more active in keeping themselves healthy.

---The Answer Desk returns next week, and we'll answer your concerns about computer security and on-line safety.

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