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Is hay fever linked to fast food?

Doctors for USA WEEKEND

True or false: Hay fever is linked to fast food.

For kids, this might be true. A large international study found that children and teens who had three or more fast-food meals a week were associated with an increased risk of severe seasonal allergies (as well as asthma and eczema). It doesn’t prove a burger and fries cause hay fever, nor that skipping them will reduce the severity of spring sniffles, but it could be one more reason to limit fast food.

True or false: Symptoms generally stop when exposure to allergens ends.

True. It’s impossible to completely avoid the billions of tiny pollens floating in the air, but you can limit contact. Close house and car windows, use allergy-grade filters in your air conditioning and furnace, minimize outdoor activity when pollen counts are high, and shower when you come inside.

True or false: Wait for congestion before taking meds.

False. Most hay fever medications work best if started just before pollen season. That’s because if you have allergies, your immune system mistakenly identifies the allergen as an intruder, and responds by releasing histamines and other chemicals that cause symptoms. If you take the drug before coming into contact with pollen, it can inhibit the release of histamine and prevent or reduce the severity of symptoms. Your doctor can help determine medicines that are best for you, and when to start.

True or false: Some fruits and veggies make hay fever worse.

True. About one-third of seasonal allergy sufferers also have oral allergy syndrome, in which proteins in some produce are similar to those in pollen. The allergic reaction is pretty much the same.

The Doctors is an Emmy-winning daytime TV show with pediatrician Jim Sears, OB-GYN Lisa Masterson, ER physician Travis Stork, plastic surgeon Andrew Ordon, health and wellness expert Jillian Michaels and psychologist Wendy Walsh. Check www.thedoctorstv.com for local listings.

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