News | St. Thomas Medical Group

Fight Ragweed Allergies In Nashville!

For many Nashvillians, August and September mark the unofficial end of summer and the start of the back-to-school season. Fresh starts, new beginnings, new seasons… but it’s not all rosy. No, in fact, for many residents of Davidson County and surrounding areas, August and September bring the much-dreaded ragweed season.

What Is Ragweed?

Ragweed is a flowering plant that makes many who suffer from Nashville allergies think, “I guess spring wasn’t so bad after all.” Yes, ragweed really can be that miserable, bad enough to make Nashville’s spring allergies seem manageable. (And that’s saying a lot, considering that Nashville ranks in the top 30 cities in the U.S. for allergies.)

Ragweed’s 17 species produce a fine-powder pollen beginning in the Southeast region during late July / early August. The plant’s bloom cycle continues north and to the west as the weeks progress. Though ragweed season is the worst in Nashville during August and September, the plant often remains active into the month of November. Individuals who are especially sensitive to ragweed may be affected until cold weather season settles in.

If you’re allergic to ragweed, it may not give you much comfort, but know that you’re in good company: three out of four people with allergies are allergic to ragweed.

What Are the Symptoms of Ragweed Allergies in Nashville?

Also known as “hay fever,” ragweed allergies can produce many of the symptoms typically associated with rhinitis (inflammation and swelling of the nose’s mucous membrane), including:

  • Sneezing
  • Itchy or runny nose
  • Nasal cogestion
  • Irritated, watery or puffy eyes
  • Itchy throat
  • Sinus headaches and pressure
  • Trouble sleeping

In individuals with asthma, ragweed can exacerbate symptoms, resulting in worsened coughing and wheezing.

What Can I Do About Ragweed Allergies?

It’s you vs. the one billion pollen grains that every ragweed plant has the capacity to release. (Multiply that times the number of ragweed plants in the area!) But our team at St. Thomas Medical Group is on your side. Here are a few ways you can fight back against ragweed allergies.

#1 Avoid These Foods

“Avoidance therapy” is one of three common approaches to treating allergies. Of course, it doesn’t help much to say, “Avoid ragweed,” as the pollen spreads everywhere. (That being said, you will still want to try limiting or avoiding time outdoors.)

You can, however, avoid certain foods, whose plants contain pollens similar to ragweed. These include banana, zucchini, sunflower sees, cantaloupes, cucumber, and others.

#2 Additional Methods for Reducing Exposure

For people who suffer from ragweed allergies, the best thing you can do is to reduce your exposure to the pollen. Follow these tips as best as you’re able:

  • Use HEPA air filters in your home HVAC system to help prevent pollen from entering the home.
  • Don’t air dry clothing or sheets on an outdoor line where they can pick up pollen.
  • If you spend an extended amount of time outside, remove shoes and clothing before entering the house so that pollen doesn’t track inside.
  • Wash outdoor pets regularly to limit pollen from entering the home.

#3 See an ENT/Allergy Doctor in Nashville

An ENT doctor at Nashville’s St. Thomas Medical Group may be able to confirm a ragweed allergy by performing a skin prick test. During this test, a small amount of the allergen is introduced to the immune system, and the reaction is observed.

While there is no “cure” for ragweed allergies, a positive result on this test may help your allergy doctor recommend anti-allergy medications that may be helpful.

Get Help for Your Nashville Allergies With an ENT Doctor!

Do you suffer from ragweed allergies in Nashville? Or do you simply suffer from some kind of allergen… you’re just not sure what? See an ENT doctor (sometimes called an “allergy doctor”) at St. Thomas Medical Group for care. Call the Nashville ENT & Allergy Clinic at +1 (615) 386-9089 or send a message online.

Joint Injections Can Improve Mobility & Quality of Life

Is joint pain just a part of getting older? Maybe. But who says you don’t have options for dealing with it? As the body ages, joints produces less hyaluronic acid (HA), a substance found in synovial fluid, a lubricant in the joints. A reduction in HA levels occurs in patients with arthritis and other conditions.

Fast Facts About Those Achy Joints

According to Arthritis Foundation, as many as 54 million adults in the United States have doctor-diagnosed arthritis, the leading cause of disability. Osteoarthritis accounts for approximately 31 million of those cases.

While arthritis may be considered an older person’s disease, as many as 300,000 infants and children have arthritis or a rheumatic condition.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “One in four adults with arthritis—15 million people—report experiencing severe joint pain related to arthritis. Additionally, nearly half of adults with arthritis have persistent pain.”

Is There a Solution In HA Joint Injections?

While there’s no “cure,” per se, for arthritis, many patients are able to find some level of relief with hyaluronic acid joint injections. HA joint injections reintroduce the lubricant the body should be producing on its own. Some patients may experience relief after just one series of injections, while others may need multiple injections over the course of several weeks or months. Whether one or several injection sessions are necessary, many patients find a reduction in pain and stiffness, better shock absorption, and greater range of motion as a result of HA joint injections.

Arthritis Foundation reports, “About 30 percent of people who undergo hyaluronic acid injections become virtually pain free, and symptom relief may last up to two years […] Yet, another 20 percent of patients experience no benefit.”

Is It All About Technique? Ultrasound-Guided Injections of the Joints

There are several methods for injecting joints with HA. At St. Thomas Medical Group, Nashville rheumatologists use ultrasound-guided technology for injecting joints. With ultrasound technology, providers can get a more accurate view of the tissues and internal structure of the joint. This allows for more precise needle placement and more effective results from the injection therapy.

In taking the ultrasound approach, providers will rub a clear ultrasound gel over the joint, which acts as a conductive medium, allowing for a clear image of the joint. This maximizes the opportunity for a successful, targeted injection by minimizing sound wave interference.

Many studies have investigated the efficacy of ultrasound-guided joint injections compared to landmark guided injections. A 2018 study evaluating the existing evidence on ultrasound-guided injections in sports medicine reports, “In the lower extremity, ultrasound-guided injections at the knee, ankle, and foot have superior efficacy to landmark-guided injections.” Clinicians, researchers, and insurers debate the effectiveness of ultrasound technology in some other joint injections. More research is being done.

Do Ultrasound-Guided Injections Hurt?

Prior to injecting the hyaluronic acid, your provider may use a numbing agent to reduce pain and discomfort. Also, in many cases, using ultrasound technology may speed up the procedure and result in a less painful injection.

After undergoing this brief outpatient procedure, you may experience some acute swelling or discomfort for 24 to 48 hours post-injection. During this time, patients are advised to rest and take it easy. Standing and walking should be minimal during this recovery period.

Get Joint Injections In Nashville & Gallatin

St. Thomas Medical Group is proud to offer joint injections that can improve mobility and quality of life in patients with sore, stiff, and achy joints. For more information, or to find a rheumatologist in Nashville or Gallatin, call +1 (615) 964-5823 or schedule an appointment online.

To Vape or Not to Vape?

Vaping has taken the U.S. by storm, rapidly eating into the tobacco market while implying a “safer” or “healthier” alternative to cigarettes. For those unfamiliar, “vaping” refers to the act of inhaling and exhaling an aerosol along with flavoring and various chemicals (typically nicotine). Vaporizers (or “vapes,” vaping devices) come in many different forms; many are rechargeable, refillable electronic devices. A wide range of flavors are available for every palate. Many popular flavors, such as cotton candy or fruit medley, are enticing to younger audiences.

Is Vaping “Better” Than Smoking Cigarettes?

Many vape manufacturers would have you believe vaping is a healthier alternative to smoking cigarettes. As Johns Hopkins Medicine points out, regular tobacco cigarettes contain approximately 7,000 chemicals (many of which are toxic), while e-cigarettes contain far fewer toxic chemicals. Though the toxicity may be lower, not enough research has been done to know precisely what chemicals (or levels) are present in vape devices.

At the very least, e-cigarettes and traditional cigarettes always contain one highly addictive and toxic chemical: nicotine. Nicotine can increase blood pressure, cause an adrenaline spike, and elevate heart rate, thereby increasing risk for heart attack. Of course, nothing about device or delivery mechanism changes the addictive nature of nicotine.

Perhaps worst of all, vaping is introducing a new generation to nicotine by the millions. Let’s take a closer look at the connection between vaping and teenagers…

Vaping & Teens

The National Institute of Drug Abuse reports some key statistics in its Teens and E-Cigarettes report:

  • 30.7 percent of teen e-cigarette users will start smoking within six months, compared to just 8.1 percent of non-users.
  • Seven in ten teenagers are exposed to e-cigarette ads.
  • A shocking number of users don’t know what’s in their e-cigarette, due in part to the fact that manufacturers don’t have to disclose their ingredients. Only 13.2 percent of teen users say nicotine is in their device, while 13.7 percent say they don’t know, and 66 percent say “just flavoring.”

According to the American Heart Association, vaping use doubled among high school students from 2017 to 2018. It’s no wonder that on December 18, 2018, Surgeon General Jerome Adams declared vaping among youth an epidemic in the United States.

The Health Risks of Vaping

Vaping isn’t just risky for teenagers, who may use it as an entry point for years of tobacco abuse. Vaping has a few health risks of its own. For example, did you know that vaping can irritate cells in the gums, mouth, and throat? Or that many vaping liquids contain chemicals harmful to the lungs, including diacetyl, 2, 3-pentanedione, and acetoin, according to a 2016 study that analyzed 51 types of flavored e-cigarettes? (As an interesting aside, this study notes there are more than 7,000 e-cigarette flavors on the market… and that was over three years ago.)

Vaping: Not Safe or Harmless

It’s possible that vaping may be a marginally better alternative for adults addicted to nicotine. However, vaping is not safe or harmless, nor should it be recommended as a smoking cessation tool.

The question the medical community should ask is, “Just how harmful might vaping be?” More research is needed to understand the chemical relationships involved in e-cigarette devices. In the meantime, their use is not recommended.

You Can Quit! We Can Help!

If you desire to quit smoking, talk to your doctor at St. Thomas Medical Group in Nashville about the many safe and approved cessation therapies that may be available. Change is possible. Call +1 (615) 297-2700 or schedule your appointment with a provider online.