Silicon Valley Allergy and Asthma
2500 Hospital Drive, Bldg 14, Mountain View, CA 94040

Anjuli Mehrotra, MD
Q: What are common triggers for asthma?

In susceptible individuals, exposure to allergens, like animal dander, dust mites, or pollens, can trigger asthma symptoms. Irritants such as tobacco smoke or strong scents can also trigger symptoms. Other common triggers include cold air, viral or bacterial infections, acid reflux, or stress/emotional anxiety. It is important to minimize known triggers to control your asthma.

Q: How often can I take my rescue inhaler or bronchodilator (albuterol)?

The rescue inhaler is meant to be exactly what it is called, a rescue inhaler. You should only use it if you are having increased difficulty breathing, coughing, or wheezing. The rescue inhaler may also be used as a preventative inhaler if you use it 15 minutes before exercise (for people who have exercise-induced asthma). If you are using your inhaler for treatment of asthma symptoms more than twice a week, you should discuss this with your doctor. This usually means that your asthma symptoms are not well-controlled and you may need another type of inhaler that works more for prevention of symptoms.

Q: What are the most common food allergens?

The eight most common food allergens are wheat, egg, cow's milk, peanut, soy, fish, shellfish, and tree nuts. These make up about 90-95% of all food allergens.

Q: Why is the prevalence of food allergy growing?

We don't really know the answer to this question, but there are a few different theories. One theory is that we are getting better at diagnosing food allergy. This may be part of the answer, but it cannot account for the degree of growth. The countries which have the lowest incidence of food allergy introduce a variety of foods at an early age, keeping the most allergenic foods in the diet in a regular interval. The delay of introduction of highly allergenic foods (nuts, fish/shellfish) in the United States might be another reason for higher food allergy incidence here, and so many allergists are now recommending introduction of allergenic foods at an early age. Another theory suggests that the Western diet, with more sugar, animal fats, and calorie-dense foods may be altering the gut bacteria, affecting the richness of the gut bacteria which may be protective in the development of food allergies.

Q: What is eczema?

Eczema, also called atopic dermatitis, is an inflammatory skin condition caused by immune dysfunction in the layers of the skin. It can begin in young childhood and often is associated with other allergic diseases such as nasal allergies, asthma, and food allergy. Eczema often looks like dry, scaly, red, or cracked skin and occurs in patches. It can be very itchy and the skin often itches before it rashes. Some common areas on the body for eczema include the folds of the arms and behind the knees.

Q: What is an epipen and why would I need one?

An epipen is a self-injectable adrenaline shot. It is considered to be the fastest, most effective treatment for anaphylaxis, a life-threatening allergic reaction. People who have food allergies, insect venom allergies (like a bee sting allergy), or a history of anaphylaxis for any reason are candidates for carrying an epipen. It is imperative to carry the epipen with you at all times, since you never know when a reaction might occur. In the event of a life-threatening reaction, you would inject yourself with the epipen as directed, and call 911 immediately so that an emergency medical professional can monitor you.

Phone (650) 701-7DOC, Fax (650) 515-3043