By Elaine Herscher, Senior Communications Editor
Dr. Michael LeNoir has dubbed this “one of the worst allergy seasons we’ve seen in many years.”
Many of us with seasonal allergies will likely groan (or sneeze) with recognition.
Dr. LeNoir directs the LifeLong Lenoir Pediatric Clinic and is also a staff clinician at Columbia Asthma & Allergy Clinic, both in Oakland. He is one of the few allergists in the area to whom LifeLong providers refer allergy and asthma patients. Long outspoken about the prevalence of asthma in African American and high-risk communities, he notes that the disease continues to be on the rise.
“We’re seeing a lot more urban asthma,” he says.
“Many symptoms are now starting to be appreciated as real asthma,” he says. “There’s an increase because of the environment and with pollution from cars. And a lot of the social determinants of health – poverty, homelessness, housing issues, environmental issues, diet, exercise – all those dynamics impact the manifestations of asthma.”
Dr. LeNoir points out that May 2 was World Asthma Day. “Asthma Day was no cause for celebration for the African American Community because African American adults are three times more likely to die from asthma, and African American children seven times more likely to die.”
The good news is that there are better biologic drugs available for intractable asthma. “That’s kind of the big issue. Every asthmatic can be controlled if in fact they really develop a relationship with a provider who’s interested and understands how to manage these diseases.”
He says that people with asthma really need to be vigilant with their treatments and stick to a plan. The same goes for allergy sufferers.
Medicines available across the counter and by prescription are proving to bring some relief, and there are some breakthroughs in allergy injections and in immunotherapy for food allergies.
“People have to recognize that this is going to be a prolonged and difficult allergy season” Dr. LeNoir says, “and they should go back to the things they know can help.”