Entries in Spring (5)


Spring Could Bring Worst Allergy Season Ever

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- In news that's nothing to sneeze at, seasonal allergy experts are confirming that 2013 allergies are going to start sooner -- and last longer -- in most parts of the country.

The 2013 allergy season is expected to begin about 14 days earlier in many parts of the United States. Experts also believe that seasonal allergies will last about 30 days longer, running through the month of October.

"We're expecting to see a very robust allergy season because of a lot of precipitation during late winter and the warmer temperatures we're seeing now throughout the country," says adult and pediatric allergy specialist Dr. Clifford Bassett, clinical assistant professor of medicine at the New York University School of Medicine and Langone Medical Center.

Higher-than-normal carbon dioxide emissions could be fueling pollen production, in effect telling plants to produce three to five times more pollen. "This is the physical effect of increasing greenhouse gases on certain plants," Dr. Bassett claims.

In fact, United States Department of Agriculture studies found that a single ragweed plant could be producing up to 4 billion pollen grains. "Not only is the pollen more prolific, it seems to be more powerful, supercharged," Dr. Bassett explains.

Additionally, large amounts of precipitation in late winter combined with warmer current temperatures set the stage for excess tree pollen.

Which days will be the worst? Higher levels of pollen generally occur on warm, dry, and windy days, while lower levels of seasonal pollen circulate on calm, wet, and cloudy days.

Dr. Bassett has a few expert tips to help you survive the allergy season:

Gauge It

To get a sense of your seasonal allergy status, visit to take a free allergy relief test. Before starting any type of treatment, get your seasonal allergies confirmed with a simple in-office allergy test; otherwise, you could be treating the wrong problem. Allergy shots may reduce or slow down your allergy problem and have been shown to give long-term relief in nearly 90 percent of patients, Dr. Bassett notes.

Treat Early

If you use nasal or oral antihistamines, steroids, or eye drops for seasonal allergies, don't wait until your symptoms are unbearable to start treatment. "If you see an allergist and get tested, the doctor can quickly individualize treatment, telling you when you should take medications and when to be on pre-treatment or allergy alert."

Be In the Know

Make a habit of checking your local allergy levels. Go to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology's National Allergy Bureau for up-to-date pollen counts. You can even sign up for email alerts or download a smartphone app that tracks pollen counts.

Be Shady

Wear oversized sunglasses to block airborne pollens from hitting your eyes. This can help prevent redness and watery eyes.

Finally, accessorize from the top. Wearing a hat -- preferably a wide-brimmed one -- can help keep pollen and other allergens from landing in your hair and eyes.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Warm Weather Causing Allergies in Pets Earlier This Year

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Springtime brings flowers and warmer weather, but along with all the benefits of the season come the dreaded symptoms of allergies.  Eyes water, noses run and a layer of yellow pollen seems to coat everything in sight.

And it turns out even pets are affected.

Vets and pet owners have noticed their furry friends scratching and sneezing earlier than usual this year, corresponding to the unusually warm weather.

“I’ve noticed a lot of changes,” said Martha Grossman, the owner of Lily, a Cavalier King Charles spaniel.  “She’s had her flea medication and everything but she’s just scratching a lot more lately.”

“Dodger rolls around in the grass a lot,” said Diana Battaglia of her Boston terrier.  “A lot more than usual.”

According to veterinary dermatologist Dr. Heather Peikes, pets fall victim to the same allergies as people.

“They even have the same symptoms,” Peikes said.  “Runny eyes, running noses, itchy skin, ear infections.”

And while allergies affect both people and animals every year, Andy Mussoline, a spokesman for Accuweather, says it’s happening much earlier this year.

“The Eastern two-thirds of the country are experiencing an especially high pollen count,” Mussoline said.  “This is due to a combination of factors.  Typically during normal springs, we have cold fronts moving through and changes in the wind.  The fresh air pushes the allergens out.  But now there aren’t many cold fronts moving through, which creates stagnant air.  At the same time, the very warm weather has created a high pollen count earlier than usual.”

Dr. Peikes says the treatment for pet allergies is similar to the treatment for humans.

“There’s allergy testing, allergy shots, air purifiers and even antihistamines that can help pets with allergies,” she said.

But Peikes says always consult with a vet before taking any action.  Some treatments may be safe for humans, but not for your pet.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


10 Best Foods to Fight Off Your Spring Cold and Flu YORK) -- You probably know that washing your hands regularly and getting enough sleep is important when it comes to warding off bugs, but did you know that what you eat can also play a key role in boosting your immunity? SELF’s nutrition director, Carin Gorrell, gave ABC News the skinny on what to munch on to stay healthy this season.

Skim Milk: About one-third of Americans are deficient in vitamin D, which is found in fortified milk, yet this nutrient is key to defending against germs: If your D levels are low, your white blood cells won’t be able to react to or ward off infections effectively. Aim to get 600 international units a day. Great sources include fortified milk, orange juice and yogurt, as well as egg yolks and wild salmon.

Red Bell Pepper: You probably think of citrus fruits when it comes to getting more immune-boosting vitamin C, and it’s true they’re a good source of the nutrient. But surprise–red bell peppers have almost three times the C of an orange! In fact, just half of one pepper will deliver the recommended 75 milligrams per day for women ages 19 and up (guys, take an extra bite or two—you need 90 mg a day). Dip pepper slices in hummus for an afternoon snack or toss it in a stir-fry for dinner.

Tea: Wake up to a steaming mug of tea to ramp up your body’s defenses against infection: A study from Harvard University reveals that the immune cells of tea drinkers responded to germs five times faster than those of coffee drinkers. And green tea, specifically, contains an antioxidant compound called EGCG which works with your immune system to ease inflammation. Add a squirt of lemon to up the ante. The juice contains quercetin, which also has anti-inflammatory powers.

Yogurt: Probiotics, the healthy bacteria in yogurt, have been linked to strong immune systems and a lower risk for gum disease and even some cancers. But not all yogurts have enough of the good stuff. The National Yogurt Association’s Live & Active Cultures seal appears on some cartons that do (such as Yoplait). Add honey for a lift. It contains prebiotics, a carb that helps yogurt’s bugs thrive.

Goat cheese: This creamy spread contains copper, which helps keep your immune system humming. Plus it’s packed with flavor, so a little goes a long way without adding unwanted calories to your meal or snack (an ounce contains only 76 calories and 4 grams of saturated fat). Try swapping out mayo in favor of a smear goat cheese on a sandwich or wrap, or mix the cheese with chopped nuts and dried fruit for a filling toast topper.

All berries are good for you, but those with a blue hue are among the best of the bunch. They have the highest levels of disease-fighting antioxidants of all commonly consumed fruit, according to research from the USDA Agriculture Research Service in Little Rock, Arkansas. The vitamin C in blueberries also blunts the effects of stress by reducing free radicals and bolstering your immune system.

Pumpkin Seeds: This tasty snack has zinc, a mineral that jacks up the immune system by inhibiting viral replication. The seeds have also been shown to reduce the duration of cold symptoms. But know that too much zinc can suppress your immune system, so stick with the recommended daily intake: Women ages 19 and up need 8 mg a day; men need 11 mg. For their part, pumpkin seeds have about 2 grams per ounce (142 seeds); try them on your yogurt or oatmeal for a little crunch or add them to a healthy trail mix.

You already know that eating any fruit or vegetable regularly is a good thing for your health, but when it comes to germ defense, mushrooms have an edge. Research suggests that the fungus may have antiviral and antibacterial properties. Any type will do the trick, but if you’re still looking to up your intake for immunity-strengthening vitamin D, button mushrooms are a potent source.

A compound in this leafy green may enhance your immune system, an animal study in The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry shows. Chewing the veggie triggers the release of chemicals, possibly helping your body regulate infection-fighting white blood cells. Cooking reduces the dose, so it’s best to eat them raw.

Pasta: Skimping on carbs or fat? Some people on plans that severely limited carbs (think Atkins) or fat (Ornish) missed out on vital nutrients like iron and zinc that help maintain immunity and energy, research from Stanford University shows. A healthy source that supplies both: whole-grain pasta. What a perfect excuse to order Italian tonight!

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Five Tips for Fighting Spring Allergies

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- If you are sneezing and have itchy eyes this spring allergy season, you are not alone. The year 2011 is shaping up to be the worst year for allergy sufferers on record.

More than 35 million Americans suffer from pollen allergies, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. And every year, the United States reportedly spends approximately $21 billion on health costs related to allergies.

A study published Friday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA searched for the cause of a trend towards longer allergy seasons.

Researchers found that a delayed first frost of the fall season and a lengthening of the frost-free season combined with increasing levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere have contributed to a longer allergy season. Longer pollen seasons increase human exposure, the duration of symptoms and severity of symptoms.

"Studies have found that not only do [plants] create more pollen, it's more potent," said Dr. Stanley Fineman, president-elect of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology and a practicing physician in Atlanta.

So what can you do if you are one of the millions of Americans who suffer from pollen allergies every year? Fineman gave ABC News the following five tips for avoiding allergies:

1. Get tested to find out exactly to what you are allergic.

2. Consult your physician about possible treatments such as allergy shots and medication.

3. Wash your hair and clothes regularly to get rid of pollen.

4. If you have pets, groom them regularly because they can bring pollen indoors.

5. Stay indoors as much as possible during pollen season to minimize your exposure.

Thankfully, science has been steadily improving the ability to combat pollen allergy symptoms.

"We can [now] pinpoint what triggers symptoms with specific testing, where in the past it was much more generalized," said Fineman. "Now, it's much more specific and accurate and sensitive. ... Treatments are more targeted and allergy shots are much more effective because we know better dosages."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Study: Allergy Season Getting Longer Each Year

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Allergy season is looming, and for the millions of Americans who suffer from the seasonal sneezing and watery eyes, this year may seem worse than years past.

According to a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, spring keeps arriving a little earlier each year as warming temperatures force winter to start later and end earlier.  This climate change, in turn, is allowing more time for plants to produce pollen, causing those with allergies to battle their symptoms longer.

Researchers studied 15 years worth of data on climate and ragweed from various locations in the U.S. and Canada.  They found that the ragweed season had been extended by nearly a month in some areas.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio