Thursday, March 27, 2008
Many allergic symptoms can be prevented

By Dr. Anthony Policastro

There are many kinds of allergies. There are also many drugs used to treat allergies. Some of those drugs treat allergic symptoms. Others are used to prevent allergic symptoms. The preventive drugs are important, however, people do not always realize how important they can be. The average person does not see the sense in taking medication until symptoms occur. What they do not know is that it is often harder to find an effective medication after the symptoms are there. For example, in December I saw a child with wheezing. When I looked over his medical record, there were other wheezing visits, however, there had only been one visit per year. They occurred every year between 2002 and 2007. They were all between November 20th and December 29th. I advised the patient to return in early November of this year. That way we could put him on an asthma prevention medication for about 6 weeks. It might prevent him from actually developing wheezing. It would be the first time since 2002 that he did not develop wheezing. It would prevent him from having coughing spells. It would prevent him from missing time from school. It would prevent him from being involved in athletic activities. Those might have been things that the family had come to expect over the years that he had the wheezing. The same kind of thing can be true with other allergic diseases. The problem is that it is the patient who knows that they get symptoms the same time every year. It is hard to review a medical record during an office visit to see the pattern. I was fortunate to have an electronic medical record. It enabled me to scan past visits pretty quickly. That was how I found the pattern to the asthma. However, it had been missed for several years by then. The patient was seen in 2002, 2003 and 2004 for the same symptoms. They occurred at the same time. We could have noticed that in 2005 or 2006. It took until 2007 for that to happen. The parents had noticed the symptoms, but they were not aware of the pattern. That was because they did not know what to look for. We do not have any problems recognizing hay fever or knowing when it is coming. Many other allergies are like that as well. When I lived in Maryland, I developed a rash every year after mowing my lawn during the first two weeks in May. So for the next few years, I would hire someone to mow the lawn during that period. I was able to prevent the symptoms. I have an allergy that occurs when I eat wheat and exercise. Therefore, I plan my exercise before meals. Or, if I know I am going to exercise, I do not eat wheat. Allergic symptoms can be prevented, but we have to know that there is a pattern to them in order to make this happen. It is a lot easier for the patient to recognize that pattern than it is for the doctor to do so. The patient sees himself/herself every day. The doctor only sees them for intermittent visits. I tell parents that they need to put on their detective's cap to find out what the allergies may be due to. You can prevent allergic symptoms. However, the first step is to recognize that they are there.

Community Health Walk Spring into health with the second annual community walk sponsored by Nemours Health and Prevention Services and the Sussex Child Health Promotion Coalition. The walk is Saturday, April 5 at 9 a.m. and includes four locations - Seaford High School track, Woodbridge Sports Complex, Delaware Technical and Community College - Georgetown, and Laurel High School. The first 100 walkers receive a free t-shirt and there will be lots of giveaways for kids. Rain date is Sunday, April 6 at 2 p.m. For more information, contact Nancy Mears at or Dara Laws at

Mammograms at Greenwood library The Women's Mobile Health Screening Van is coming to Greenwood Public Library on Wednesday, April 23. Free or low-cost mammograms will be given to women who have scheduled an appointment. Women interested in receiving a mammogram must call 888-672-9647 before April 23 to schedule an appointment. No one will receive services without an appointment. A doctor's prescription is also required. Don't delay in calling if you are interested in receiving this service at no or low cost. Mammograms can save lives by finding breast cancer as early as possible. The van is administered by the Delaware Breast Cancer Coalition, Inc. and offers high quality services delivered by professional medical staff. The Greenwood Public Library is located east of the railroad tracks, on the corner of Market Street (DE Rt. 16) and Mill Street. You may call 888-672-9647 or 302-349-5309 for information.

Caregivers Diabetes Program Nanticoke Memorial Hospital, Seaford will provide a Caregivers Diabetes Education Program on Saturday, April 12 from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Call JDRF (Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation) 302-888-1117 to register or fax 302-741-8602.

A JDRF Downstate Diabetes Forum A JDRF Downstate Diabetes Resource Forum will be held Saturday, April 5 from 9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. at Community Christian Church, 6400 Culver Road, Salisbury. Guest speakers will be Dr. Gerard Kuhn, M.D. and Vic Pelletier. Dr. Kuhn is a parent of a Type 1 daughter. A pediatrician, Dr. Kuhn will speak about JDRF's research. Pelletier lived for 30 years with Type 1 Diabetes and was the recipient of a new pancreas three years ago. He will speak about living with diabetes. The event is hosted by Sondra Messick of Seaford and Robyn Wilson of Ocean City. RSVP to Messick at 629-8210.

Del Tech offers first aid Parents, teachers, coaches, and day care providers can increase their caregiving and safety skills with courses in pediatric first aid, basic first aid and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) at Delaware Tech, Owens Campus. The course is approved by the Office of Child Care Licensing. Participants must attend both sessions to receive a three-year course completion certificate. For those whose jobs require certification of CPR and basic first aid skills, the college offers courses that teach adult (one-rescuer) CPR and relief of foreign body airway obstruction as well as hands-on skills for quick response in medical emergencies and first aid situations. Those who pass the written exam earn a two-year course completion card. The Pediatric First Aid courses will be held from 6 to 9 p.m. on April 7 and 9. CPR & Basic First Aid is a one-session class and will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on March 29 and April 23. For more information, contact Delaware Tech's Corporate and Community Programs at 854-6966.

Stroke support group Nanticoke Memorial Hospital will offer free monthly Stroke Support Group meetings designed for individuals who have survived a stroke and their families and caregivers. Meetings are held the third Thursday of each month at Nanticoke Cancer Care Center, from 1:30 - 3:30 p.m. The meetings will consist of guest speakers and breakaway sessions, in which caregivers and survivors will meet in two groups to discuss concerns, provide support and networking. Refreshments will be provided. Sheila Brant and Joan Burditt, occupational therapists at Nanticoke Memorial Hospital, will facilitate the support group meetings. Pre-registration is not required. For more information, call 629-6611, ext. 5121.

Depression support group in Laurel The Mental health Association in Delaware will be sponsoring a Depression Support Group in Laurel on the second and fourth Thursdays of each month. The meetings begin at 7 p.m. The MHA encourages anyone dealing with a depressive disorder to attend. Register in advance by calling 1-800-287-6423. Peer support groups sponsored by Mental Health Association of Delaware are not intended to replace professional mental health treatment. MHA does not publish support group locations; locations are provided with registration.

Spring beach ride and walk Bring your horse and ride on the beautiful beach or bring your walking shoes and enjoy the paved, scenic paths at our 11th Annual Spring Beach Ride and Walk to Benefit Southern Delaware Therapeutic and Recreational Horseback Riding, Inc. (SDTRHR). SDTRHR is a 501c3, non profit, NARHA(North American Riding for the Handicapped Association) affiliated center located in Eastern Sussex County. Presently, we are the only NARHA affiliated center in Kent and Sussex Counties. Our certified therapeutic riding instructors and trained volunteers have provided planned sessions in equine-assisted therapy to children and adults with special needs since 1988. SDTRHR relies solely on donations, fund raising and grants to provide our much needed services. All donations are Tax Deductible. "We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give, " Winston Churchill Join us at Cape Henlopen State Park at 10 a.m. on Saturday, March 29. Registration fee is $25 for adults (ages 14 & up) and $15 for children, which includes a buffet lunch. If you can't join us at the beach but would like to make a donation, visit our website below. For more information, call 644-1920, or visit

Free Colorectal Cancer Screening This year, more than 148,000 Americans will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer and nearly 50,000 people are expected to die from the disease. The risk for colorectal cancer increases with age and anyone over 50 should be screened. If detected early, colorectal cancer can be cured and with proper screening it can even be prevented. To help fight this disease, Bayhealth Medical Center will offer free colorectal screenings for Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month on the following dates and locations:

  • Saturday, March 29: Bayhealth Medical Center at Milford Memorial Hospital, 21 W. Clarke Avenue, Milford. 9 a.m. to noon.
  • Saturday, April 5; GI Associates, 742 S. Governors Ave., Suite 3, Dover. 9 a.m. to noon.
  • Pre-registration is required. For more information or to register, please contact Paula Hess, MSN, RN, at 302-430-5064.