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Fall Allergies

The beginning of fall means cooler temperatures, football games, and children going back to school. Unfortunately, this time of year is also particularly difficult for those suffering with allergies and asthma. According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI), allergies and asthma account for more than 14 million school day absences annually. The back-to-school season is also associated with a 46 percent increase in asthma-related emergency department visits by grade school children. School children with asthma and allergies face challenges not experienced by their classmates, and parents are charged with helping these children identify potential triggers for these conditions.  

According to Dr. Lee Perry, a board certified adult/pediatric allergist at the Chattanooga Allergy Clinic, Chattanooga was recently ranked the 5th worst city in America for asthma sufferers. These rankings, performed by the Allergy and Asthma Foundation of America, were based on several factors including pollen counts, medication utilization, air pollution and ozone levels. “Children returning to school are at increased risk of infections and cold viruses, which are the most common trigger for asthma attacks, ” says Dr. Perry.  “Other potential exacerbants include ragweed allergy (hay fever) and exercise.” Dr. Perry says that avoiding germs at school is nearly impossible, but parents should make sure their children get a seasonal flu shot. “It is also important to teach your child how to properly wash his or her hands with soap and hand sanitizers, which can prevent the spread of infection,” says Dr. Perry. 

Dr. Perry states that over 80% of asthmatics experience exercise-induced symptoms. “If your child has difficulty breathing during or after exercise, see a board-certified allergist who can help you develop a treatment plan,” says Dr. Perry. “Also, be sure to make sure teachers are aware of your child’s condition so that medications can be available at school.”

In addition to being a challenging city for asthmatics, Dr. Perry says Chattanooga has annually been among the worst cities in the country for people with fall allergies. Ragweed is the most common fall-specific seasonal allergen, as well as other weed pollens. Other common allergy-related triggers include perennial allergens such as dust mites and pet dander. “These allergens can lead to asthma symptoms as well as allergy symptoms such as runny nose, nasal congestion, sneeze, itchy and watery eyes, and sinus infections,” says Dr. Perry. “If you or your children experience these symptoms during the fall, I would recommend allergy skin testing to help determine which allergens are the culprit(s).” Treatment for such allergies include over the counter antihistamines, prescription nasal sprays, and allergy shots. “The medicines we use are somewhat effective in controlling allergy symptoms—however, allergy shots are the only available cure,” says Dr. Perry. According to Dr. Perry, the goal of allergy shots is to eliminate allergies and decrease the need for medications.

Food allergies are another common concern for both parents and students at the beginning of the school year. The most common food allergies are associated with peanuts, tree nuts, milk, egg, wheat, soy and seafood. “School officials should be made aware of your child’s food allergies, and proper avoidance measures should be taken,” says Dr. Perry. “For most food allergies, it is wise to have emergency medications available at the school as well.” According to Dr. Perry, these medications might include antihistamines (such as Benadryl) and injectable epinephrine (EpiPen). 

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Dr. Todd Levin article included in prestigious Annals of Allergy

Administrator · 08/07/2012 ·

Dr. Todd Levin of the Chattanooga Allergy Clinic was recently published in the November issue of the prestigious Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology.  His article, “Cross-reactivity between cockroach and ladybug using the radioallergosorbent test,” studied the incidence of ladybug allergy in the general population and found it to be approximately ten percent.

Cockroaches and ladybugs, both common indoor allergens, were determined to be partially cross-reactive, meaning that the proteins that cause allergy in each insect are similar in structure. Additionally, people with infestations of either may suffer from similar symptoms, including increased asthma symptoms, congestion, runny nose, and itching involving both the eyes and nose.  Locally, ladybugs may cause seasonal symptoms between September and March when they are typically searching for warm areas in which to nest. 

As with any type of allergy, degrees of symptoms can be variable.  Some people may develop symptoms without actually being allergic to ladybugs; their odor alone can act as a powerful irritant.

While people with cockroach allergies have historically received immunotherapy, or allergy shots, to help lessen their sensitivity, a similar ladybug therapy is not currently available. Theoretically, however, cockroach immunotherapy could help ladybug allergy.
Dr. Levin is optimistic that this study will not only increase awareness of ladybug allergy, but also lead to the development of better testing modalities, and ultimately effective treatment for those patients who suffer seasonal symptoms.

For more information, please contact Dr. Todd Levin at Chattanooga Allergy Clinic, 423-899-0431.

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Dr Marc Cromie participates in "Dancing with the Stars" Chattanooga

Administrator · 08/07/2012 ·

Quietly, six distinguished Chattanooga professionals will slip away again this week, like they did last week and the week before, mostly unnoticed by family, friends and co-workers. Their disappearances are for a greater calling—ballroom dance lessons. The six are, in fact, competitors who each want to win Chattanooga’s Dancing with the Stars contest next month, benefitting the Partnership for Families, Children and Adults.

“I’ve never ballroom danced before,” says Alexis Bogo, one of the local celebrity contestants participating in the competition at Tivoli Theatre in downtown Chattanooga. “I’ve never done any formal dancing at all, but the Partnership is such a wonderful organization, I wanted to give it a try.”

Bogo, who heads Hamico Foundation, the charitable arm of Chattem, Inc., will complete 15 hours of ballroom dance lessons before she competes against other well-known Chattanoogans including Dr. Marc Cromie, a popular allergist with practices around the region on June 26. All six novice dancers will be paired with experienced dance instructors during practices, as well as the actual show.

“Performing in front of crowds is not a big deal,” says Cromie, who as a University of Georgia cheerleader performed in front of 80,000 to 100,000 each game day. “My wife is trained in ballet, so she is the dancer in our family. I have never danced, so I could make a real fool of myself.”

In the end, judges and audience members will get a say in who dances best, but residents can vote online and in person for their favorites. One vote costs $1, and participants can vote as often as they’d like.

While the television version of Dancing with the Stars may be full of tabloid-style drama, performance-related injuries and nail -bit-ing vote-off s, contestants are competing simply for bragging rights and a trophy. Th e Chattanooga version, on the other hand, boasts similar style and intensity, with less focus on Hollywood antics and more emphasis on an important cause, the Partnership.

Last year, television host Alison Lebovitz won the popular vote, and publisher Jason Taylor won the dance competition. Lebovitz and Taylor are back this year as co-chairs of the event. They say the concept is outstanding, exhilarating for both participants and attendees.

“The changes we’ve made really take Dancing with the Stars Chattanooga to the next level,” says Taylor, president of Chattanooga Publishing Company which owns Chatter magazine and Chattanooga Times Free Press. “The venue change, the local cast and keeping the interactive voting really allows the contest to be fun for everyone and make a big difference in the lives of thousands of individuals.”

“It’s one thing to say, ‘Sponsor me for a run or jump-rope contest,’” adds Lebovitz, who hosts “The A-List,” a local talk show on WTCI-TV. “But in this contest, every contribution is a vote, and it all goes to an incredibly worthy cause.”

With this in mind, Bogo this year is bringing a new strategy to the competition. It might make her a tough act to follow. “I like to match donations,” explains Bogo. “I will match the first $500 in votes dollar for dollar. And I am sure Chattem will match the next $2,000. That way, every $5 donation actually equals $10, for example.”

Dr. Cromie comes with a huge patient base. Nearly 15,000 patients are seen at his practice each year. He is posting flyers in his offices asking for support. He will also use the Internet to attract supporters.

Voting is easy, Lebovitz says. Donors are allowed to cast their votes online until June 25, or in person the night of the competition. The goal is make the voting as interactive as possible so the public can monitor standings, and see who is in first place up until the actual winner is announced.

This is the third year of the increasingly popular competition, the signature fundraiser for the Partnership. Last year, the event raised more than $35,000, and the goal this year is to raise more than $50,000. The venue last year was too small, notes Lebovitz, so the competition was sold out early. The 2010 version will be held at the larger Tivoli Theatre, and Lebovitz thinks it will be another will sellout.

Article published in Chatter Chattanooga, May 2010 
Writer: Adam Crisp  Photography: Mark Gilliland

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Dr. Marc Cromie Wins "Best Allergist" for 2009 and 2010

Administrator · 08/07/2012 ·


As the winner of the newly introduced category of Best Allergist, Dr. Marc Cromie says he is very thankful to his patients in Chattanooga and the surrounding region for their support and recognition.

“It is a highlight of my career so far,” says Cromie.

“We will continue to do our best to win this award every year. There are several good allergists in town, so it’s indeed an honor.”

Cromie says he considers his employees to be the secret to his success.

“All the praise should go to my staff , who goes about treating every patient as if they were their own family member,” says Cromie.

After experiencing allergies himself as a child, the former pediatrician says the most rewarding part of his job is seeing patients he can relate to and making a positive difference in their lives.

“We try to make each visit as pleasant as possible,” he says. “Toys, videos, and snacks for our kids makes allergy testing less scary for our patients.”

Chattanooga Allergy Clinic would like to thank you for voting Dr. Marc Cromie the First Place Winner for "Best Allergist for 2009 and 2010"

This award was made possible by the "BEST OF THE BEST" team of doctors and staff at the Chattanooga Allergy Clinic.

We appreciate your continued support for 2011.

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Allergy clinic brings awareness to non-patients

Administrator · 01/17/2012 ·

Jonathan Lehman, kneeling front right, climbing to the top of Alaska's Mount Denali in order to help ramp up public awareness for an air quality initiative he is now mounting in Chattanooga.

By Jennifer Bardoner, Community News Associate Editor

Chattanooga Allergy Clinic is committed to bringing a better quality of life to those suffering from respiratory issues. That’s why they pledged funds to help local resident Jonathan Lehman climb the tallest mountain in North America in order to bring awareness to an air quality public education campaign he is now launching.

“Prior to leaving I told people it doesn’t really matter if I summit or not because people cared enough about what I’m doing to send me,” said Lehman, who recently returned from the grueling trek up Alaska’s Mount Denali. “The No. 1 question everyone asks is, ‘Did you summit?’ I’m so happy I can say yes. As people are beginning to ask that I realize maybe it was necessary to summit for full credibility.”

Whether or not he had succeeded might not have mattered in light of the credibility of the established, board-certified practice of Drs. Marc Cromie, Todd Levin, Hyman Kaplan and Lee Perry, which has offices in East Brainerd, Hixson, Cleveland and Fort Oglethorpe. The public has voted them “best of the Best’ three years in a row.

“We’re very thrilled and excited for his success,” Cromie said. “Once we met him and heard his story we couldn’t help but be a part of it.”

Lehman is mounting a tree education component of his Fight for Air campaign. Registration is now open for public classes that will begin in September.

“what these classes allow is someone who is interested in learning more about trees or tree planting to take that step, get involved, actually get two free trees, go out and plant them and take care of them themselves,” curriculum developer Michael Wurzel said od the Citizen Forestry classes. “It marries education with action, which is one of the cool things about the class.”

Those classes are suitable for high schoolers and up, but he and Lehman are working on developing a curriculum for elementary students that they hope to get integrated into the school system. Normal Park Elementary has already agreed to be the pilot school for the in-the-works fourth- and sixth-grade curriculum.

“Absolutely one thing we can’t do without is quality breathing air, and it’s maybe one of those things we take for granted the most and talk about the least,” Lehman said, noting the air-cleaning qualities trees provide.

Chattanooga ranks No. 3 in the country for pollen, according to Cromie, which can not only exacerbate but also cause respiratory issues. He and the rest of his practice have agreed to set up shop wherever Lehman goes to offer free asthma screenings.

“Asthma is a chronic disease that kills around 4,000 people a year,” said Cromie. “these deaths are, in my opinion, avoidable. A lot of times it’s awareness; people don’t realize that have asthma. We will take on the expense and be the sole allergist to help him increase awareness and diagnosis of asthma and hopefully get treatment to kids and adults who may not even know they have asthma.”

Lehman said he hopes to use events like the recent Dragon Boat Festival, upcoming River Rocks and others quarterly to help spread awareness and education.

As a Chattanooga firefighter and father of an asthmatic child, he knows all too well the importance of having quality breathable air. He also personally knows the effect not having enough of it can have on the body, which was the purpose of his climb up Denali.

“The higher up you go the thinner the air gets, the harder it is to breath. That to me is parallel to respiratory issues,” he said.

He celebrated his 34th birthday while hunkered down on the side of the 20,320-foot-high mountain two days before summiting. The weather had turned bad and the group was forced to wait out the whiteout, which Lehman likened to being inside a ping pong ball.

“The hardest part was just being gone,” he said, despite the fact that it was negative 30 degrees on top the mountain and in the 14 days it took him to reach the top, two people died in similar attempts and one of his traveling partners tore his ACL and had to be evacuated. “Three weeks away from my wide and kids was kind of a bummer. They let me use their phone to call home; it was the best birthday present ever.”

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