Itching, sneezing, watery eyes – allergy season is back

I was wondering how to minimize our suffering from the flowers and grasses that appear this season. Also I want to know if there is any way to prevent allergic responses in developing babies.

Allergy season (Illustrative) (photo credit: MIKE MINER/TNS)
Allergy season (Illustrative)
(photo credit: MIKE MINER/TNS)
I, my husband and some of my children aged seven to 12 suffer from allergies, especially in the spring. I was wondering how to minimize our suffering from the flowers and grasses that appear this season. Also, as I am pregnant, I want to know if there is any way to prevent allergic responses from developing in babies.
V.L., Ra’anana
Dr. Nufar Marcus-Mandelblit, a senior physician at the immunology and allergy institute at the Schneider Children’s Medical Center in Petah Tikva, replies:
While the coming of spring brings with it happy holidays and the chance to visit nature spots, children and adults with allergies to pollen grains of various plants begin to suffer from nasal itching, sneezing, watery eyes, and occasional wheezing and difficulty breathing. These are manifestations of seasonal allergic rhinitis (also known as hay fever) and seasonal asthma.
Pollen grains of different plants are carried in the air as the weather warms up. When the pollen reaches the nasal membranes and the nasal tract, certain cells scattered in the mucous membranes release a substance called histamine, which is responsible for the various allergic symptoms. The allergens in plant life that bloom in the country in the spring mainly are olive and cypress trees, pecans and dates and various plants, grasses and shrubs.
Those who are allergic to pollen grains from spring plants should avoid trips to places where they are widespread, such as where there are many olive trees. When traveling, you should close the car windows.
If you live in such areas, it is recommended to close the windows in the house as much as possible and not to hang laundry to dry outside; use the clothes dryer instead.
If you still want to travel outside, it is recommended that you take regular anti-allergy treatment with antihistamines and steroids as recommended by your doctor.
There are also injections against allergy that are very effective for seasonal allergy.
Treatments include medications such as oral antihistamines, nasal spray and eye drops, as well as inhalers for those who need it. Long-term treatment includes desensitization (reducing the child’s sensitivity to a known allergen). In this treatment, the allergens are injected with a low dose and concentration that increases each week, thus causing the immune system to produce desirable immune responses against the allergens and to reduce the production of antibodies responsible for the allergic reactions in the body.
As for your second question, we at Schneider are about to conduct a study that will examine the effect of nutrition of babies on the development or prevention of allergies. Pregnant women who are expected to give birth in the coming months and are interested in receiving additional details may call the clinic at (03) 925- 3652.
My two-month-old daughter, whom I am nursing, is healthy and growing. She suddenly had something of a red rash on her cheeks (but not elsewhere on her body). We use special washing powder for sensitive skin. Nobody in our immediately family has an allergy.
I took her to our tipat halav (well-baby) clinic, where the nurse advised me to stop eating all kinds of foods. I was skeptical and took the baby to the pediatrician, who agreed that I should not eat eggs, milk, tomatoes or anything else that is red or orange. It seems extreme to me. The queue for an appointment with an allergy specialist is months long.
Should I really stop eating all these things, which could mean I eat less nutritious food? If I should stop eating such food, should I do it one at a time to find the culprit for the rash or all at a time?
M.I., Jerusalem
Dr. Arnon Elitzur, a veteran pediatric allergy specialist at Assaf Harofeh Medical Center in Tzrifin, answers:
The advice given to you by the tipat halav nurse and the pediatrician is outdated.
From your description, it seems clear that your baby has a mild case of atopic dermatitis. This does not come from any allergy to what you are eating. A moisturizer should help. I also advise giving her a little dairy baby formula once a day so she gets used to cow’s milk.
(This advice was confirmed as absolutely correct when M.I. took her baby to a pediatric allergy specialist in Jerusalem. J.S.I).
I suffer from kidney stones and am a tea drinker. My doctor told me not to drink tea, as it would increase the number of stones. Is this true? A.N., Rehovot Dr. Olga Raz, head of clinical nutrition at Ariel University’s Heath Sciences Faculty, replies: Drinking tea should be limited only if most of your kidney stones are comprised of calcium oxalates. You can have this checked. Oxalates occur naturally in numerous foods, including cashews, beets, cocoa powder, bran cereals, sweet potatoes, spinach, beer, chocolate, peanuts, soy products and eggplant. As there are oxalates in teas, you should reduce your consumption of tea and these foods. You don’t have to give up eating these foods completely, but you should reduce your intake of them.
Rx for Readers welcomes queries from readers about medical problems. Experts will answer those we find most interesting. Write Rx for Readers, The Jerusalem Post, POB 81, Jerusalem 9100002, fax your question to Judy Siegel-Itzkovich at (02) 538-9527, or email it to, giving your initials, age and place of residence.