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June 27, 2006 > Donít Let Allergies and Mosquitoes Dampen Summertime Fun

Donít Let Allergies and Mosquitoes Dampen Summertime Fun

Union City Clinic Offers Services for a Healthy Summer

Summertime for many means great outdoor fun thanks to longer days, but it can also mean allergies and mosquito bites.

Allergies can be as mild as intermittent sneezing to a full-blown asthma attack. For a more enjoyable summer, it’s best to get allergies under control if they affect your normal routine.

Minimize allergies; maximize summer fun

“Seasonal allergies are a reaction by the body’s immune system to harmless substances that it sees as harmful,” says Dr. Hoang Trinh, medical director of the Nakamura Clinic, Union City. “These small airborne particles called allergens, which include mold, dust mites, pet dander, and pollen of trees, grasses, and weeds can all trigger an allergic reaction.”

Allergies affect sufferers in different ways, according to Dr. Trinh.

“Common symptoms can include sneezing, watery eyes, itching, swelling, a rash or hives, and a stuffy or runny nose,” he says. “Those with asthma have a constricting reaction in the airways, whereas others might suffer from an inflammation of the nasal passages called allergic rhinitis or irritation of the eyes called allergic conjunctivitis.”

Those with mild hay fever don’t typically need to see a physician unless they have trouble controlling their symptoms through conventional methods, such as using over-the-counter medications and avoidance of common triggers, but asthma sufferers need to have strict allergy control as allergies will exacerbate their asthma, according to Trinh.

“Everyone’s immune system responds differently,” he says. “Up to 20 percent of people of all ages are affected by seasonal allergies. Some will have symptoms that will need treatment; others will have much milder symptoms.”

Nakamura Clinic, Union City offers a wide range of services for people suffering from allergies. For patients suffering from uncontrolled allergies, clinic staff will conduct a general exam; ask them about their general medical history; recommend various medications they can take, including nasal sprays, eye drops, oral antihistamines, as well as decongestants; and talk to patients about allergens and how to avoid them.

General tips for reducing allergies – depending upon the source of the allergic reaction – according to Trinh, may include the following:


  • Avoiding pollen that comes from tree, grass or weeds

  • Showering or bathing before bedtime to wash off pollen residue

  • Avoiding going outside during peak times of the day when allergies cause most of the problems

  • Avoiding being out on dry, windy days

  • Keeping windows and doors shut at home and in the car during those times

  • Using special High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters that can help reduce the allergens in the air indoors

  • Reducing exposure to molds by removing house plants and cleaning bathroom walls, windows and other areas where mold has built up with a mixture of water and chlorine bleach.

  • Opening windows to air out humidity

  • Keeping pets out of the bedroom; and in case of severe allergic reaction potentially finding a new home for pets

  • Encasing mattresses and pillows in mite-impermeable barriers and washing sheets and blankets weekly in hot water.


“There’s no reason to have to live with the misery of allergy symptoms,” Trinh says. “There’s very good, effective treatment available for allergies, and I would urge seeking treatment for anyone who is experiencing uncontrolled symptoms.”

Learn more about West Nile Virus; stay safe

Mosquito bites, which can cause local irritation and itching, are a nuisance that most of us shrug off as a downside to the warm summer weather, but the increasing incidence of West Nile Virus makes avoiding mosquito bites much more important.

“West Nile Virus is definitely different from the flu virus, and it’s potentially more serious because not a lot of people are aware of it and there’s no vaccine for it,” according to Dr. Trinh.

Mild symptoms of West Nile Virus infection may include fever, headache, fatigue, back pain, muscle aches, decreased appetite, and a rash. Other nonspecific symptoms can include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain. These symptoms take anywhere from a few days to several weeks to resolve. A very small number of people infected with the West Nile Virus may develop more serious symptoms, which may include high fever, severe headache, neck stiffness, confusion, tremors, numbness, paralysis, extreme fatigue, weakness and coma. These symptoms may last for several weeks and may even persist indefinitely to some degree, according to Dr. Trinh.

Most people infected with the West Nile Virus may never develop symptoms and aren’t even aware that they contracted the virus. Only about 20 percent of the people who become infected will have the milder self-limited illness, and less than 1 percent will develop the severe form of the infection. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), people over 50 are at the highest risk for developing severe West Nile disease. Even healthy, active adults of this age group are at an increased risk, and therefore should take extra precautions, most importantly using mosquito repellent, when outdoors.

There are, in fact, several steps everyone can take to minimize the risk of acquiring West Nile Virus. “This is the season where the WNV is going to be more prevalent,” Trinh says. “When you’re outdoors, be aware of mosquito hours – from dusk to dawn when mosquitoes are the most active; take extra care to use repellents with DEET and apply it any time you go outside or avoid being out during those times; and wear protective clothing including long sleeve shirts and pants to minimize the skin that’s exposed. Around the house, have good screens on the windows; get rid of mosquito breeding sites by emptying standing water from sources like flower pots, pet dishes, bird baths and water fountains because that’s where the mosquitoes lay their eggs.”

To learn more about the West Nile Virus and what you can do to prevent it from spreading, visit www.whhs.com, click on “For Our Community,” and select “West Nile Virus.” Also visit the CDC’s Web site for updates about the West Nile Virus.
 
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