Our own Dr. Rachel Schreiber, former President of the Greater Washington Allergy, Asthma and Immunology Society, was interviewed at length on the Kojo Nnamdi show on NPR. I was so proud of her – so calm, so knowledgeable! She answered Kojo’s questions and those from many callers.
They covered everything from the most common allergens, to why the Washington DC metro area is known as being a bad site for allergies. Unfortunately though, Dr. Schreiber said that if you have a predilection to develop allergies, you are likely to develop them in another locale as well. As Kojo said, ‘You can run, but you cannot hide.” It may take a few years, as Dr. Schreiber told the caller of a 2 year old. First, a person has to be exposed to an allergen, and be exposed again to develop antibodies that can then cause allergic symptoms.
As climate warming occurs, we can expect longer allergy seasons. We count on a hard freeze in the winter to kill the mold on the leaves that have fallen. If that fails to occur, those who usually have only spring and fall allergies may not have a respite for the winter.
They discussed the hygiene hypothesis, that we in the West take many vaccines that protect us against mainly deadly and deforming illnesses. Our immune cells might then be looking for other things to react to, and we end up developing antibodies – and allergies – against dust and other items that people in less developed countries don’t.
She helped listeners try to determine the difference between upper respiratory infections and allergy symptoms. One listener asked if there was an alternative to allergy shots, since she had difficulty tolerating them.
Dr. Schreiber answered many other questions regarding pediatric and adult allergies. We’re proud to have her among our active Lady Docs! Here’s the link to the audio recording of her conversation with Kojo!