In Marin / CURRENTS
Many residents are struggling
with debilitating allergies after an
unusually rainy season. We spoke with
Dr. Schuman Tam from the Asthma
and Allergy Clinic of Marin and
San Francisco about symptoms and
• What are the most common allergens in Marin?
For indoor allergens it’s usually dust mites, but it
can be a cat and/or dog, as well. Patients can have
horse allergies, too. During spring, the most common pollens that trigger symptoms are juniper,
cedar, cypress, oak and olive trees; another major
allergen is grass. Weeds can cause reactions
in fall but it’s not that big of an issue in Marin.
Outdoor molds like alternaria and hormodendrum
can also trigger allergies in late summer and fall.
• What are the symptoms of these allergens?
All allergens cause similar symptoms. Dust, cat
hair and dog fur can trigger rhinitis (runny nose,
sneezing, postnasal drip, nasal congestion, sinus
headache), conjunctivitis (itchy eyes, watery eyes,
red eyes) and sometimes asthma. Grass and trees
usually provoke rhinitis and conjunctivitis in spring
and if grass and/or tree pollen counts are high like
this spring, asthma is a possibility as well.
• What are the treatments available? Rhinitis
treatments include over-the-counter nonsedating
antihistamines, decongestants or nasal steroids.
For conjunctivitis, in addition to OTC antihistamines, ketotifen eye drops may help. Talk to
a doctor if these remedies don’t bring relief.
Medication may be prescribed, or you may benefit from allergen immunotherapy, by injection or
sublingually (under the tongue).
WHO WOULDN’T LOVE pizza without gaining weight, travel without costs or a glowing tan sans skin cancer risk? As it turns out, the latter is possible. To achieve a great sunless tan from a bottle, Dr. Kim Frederickson at Novato Dermatology recommends first prepping skin by using a glycolic-acid
cleanser for several weeks — “it exfoliates dead skin cells and plumps the other cells” — but choose a 15 percent solution, max, as any higher can cause irritation. After this regimen, “let the skin rest for several days,”
Frederickson suggests, since “using tanner immediately after the glycolic acid can cause itching.” To protect
skin from the sun, opt for physical, not chemical, blockers. “Ninety to 95 percent of sunscreen in stores are
chemical blockers, which absorb heat and lead to burning eyes,” Frederickson adds. Instead, choose a product containing zinc oxide or titanium oxide, which are physical blockers and reflect rays away from the skin.
“Look for those under ‘active ingredients,’ ” she says. You can also now buy a sunscreen pill made with extract
of Polypodium leucotomos, a South American fern the Mayans used for healing; look for brands like Heliocare,
widely available at drugstores. “When I vacation in Tahoe or Hawaii I take the pill and use it in conjunction
with sunscreen,” Frederickson says. KASIA PAWLOWSKA
INJUR Y PREVEN TION HOME REMEDIES GE T HELP
Adjust the headrest in your car
just like you would your mirrors
— it should be the same height
as the back of your head to
provide support if you get rear-ended. Keep your computer
screen at eye level to prevent
poor neck posture.
Rest and ice within the first 24
to 48 hours. Motrin or Aleve
are more effective than Tylenol
or narcotics. Maintain a consistent level of anti-inflammatory
medication in your body by taking it every day for the first two
weeks regardless of whether
you have pain.
Watch for tingling, numbness
or arm weakness. If symptoms
are worse when tilting your
neck upward and/or better
when putting your arm behind
your head it may indicate nerve
Low Back Pain Core strength is key and it’s not
all about abs. Core stabilizers
include the smaller muscles
that surround your spine, pelvis
and hips. Static exercises such
as planks and bridges are better
than traditional sit-ups.
Ninety percent of people get
better within 90 days with the
same treatment outlined above
for whiplash/neck pain. Stay
moderately active, as prolonged
bed rest is never the answer.
Ask your trainer/yoga/Pilates
instructor to adjust your workout. Avoid deep back bends, and
if something hurts, don’t do it.
Pain after a fall from significant
height and/or trauma could
indicate broken vertebrae.
Fever, chills, or night sweats
with increasing back pain may
mean an infection.
and Leg Pain)
Sitting increases pressure on the
discs in the spine; vary your position and get up regularly to avoid
prolonged sitting; try a standing
desk that allows you to alternate
positions throughout the day.
can be useful but are not as
effective for nerve inflammation
compared to their effect on soft
tissue. Sleeping with a pillow
under your knees will relax the
sciatic nerve and decrease pain.
Be watchful for numbness in
the saddle region, leg weakness, and loss of bowel and/or
Stay in the Game
Here, spinal surgeon Dr. Brian Su at Mt. Tam
Orthopedics and Spine Center shares prevention tips
and remedies to keep you active. K.P.
Our  Top Doctors share tips and remedies
to keep you at your best all summer long.