Dr. Zachary Rubin, an allergy immunologist in his 30s practicing in suburban Chicago, isn’t all that surprised by his new status as a minor celebrity on TikTok, where he has 720,000 followers and counting.
And no, it’s probably not just his trademark buns and coiffed curls that draw viewers in, but rather what he knows: Cold medical professionals are something of a rarity on the popular social networking site.
“There are 330 million people in the United States and only 7,200 board-certified allergists,” Rubin told The Post. “That’s not much”.
Rubin’s how-to videos, which range from tutorials on proper nasal spray use to the worst allergy medications to avoid, have racked up millions of views.
In the last three months alone, Rubin has seen his fan count triple as cold season gets underway.
“[Allergies] It happens every time we transition into spring, but this time people say, ‘This is the worst allergy I’ve ever had,’” Rubin said.
The main reason for that, he said, is climate change.
“Increased temperatures allow plants to pollinate for a longer period of time because we have temperatures above freezing,” he said, noting that allergies are getting worse every year. “We have a growing population with respiratory diseases.”
Dr. Rubin began posting to TikTok during the pandemic “to better connect with patients” at a time when no one was meeting in person.
His identification has helped him grow his audience: Rubin is open about his own battles with allergies over the years, growing up in the Midwest.
“I used to have severe allergies until I got allergy shots,” she said. “I used to pant around cats and dogs, but not anymore!”
Just in time for the pollen rush, Dr. Rubin shared 10 of his top tips on how to beat seasonal allergies and win.
Get tested soon
Many people think they have allergies if they have a runny, itchy nose, postnasal drip, or cough, but those symptoms can be triggered by all sorts of things.
“We have to recognize that COVID, cold and allergies look similar,” he said.
You should get tested to understand ways to reduce exposure to what you are allergic to and what types of medications will be beneficial.
An allergy test can be a skin test or a blood test that measures an antibody called immunoglobulin.
Wear a mask outside, no really
“Wearing a mask outside is very beneficial for people who have severe allergies, because you are filtering out those particles,” he said.
Surgical masks, KN95 and N95 masks work. It’s also a good idea to wear an eye covering such as sunglasses and goggles.
Don’t bring the enemy home with you
When you return home, always change your clothes and take off your shoes.
Pollen and mold, these things in the air stick to your clothes, and when you sit on your furniture you deposit them all over the place.
“Allergens can be very sticky,” he said.
Keep your sinuses clear
Use saline rinse bottles to rinse your sinuses once a day before bed.
“Get rid of the irritants in your nose, so you don’t have inflammation when you go to sleep,” he said.
You can buy them at any drug store or at a retailer like Target.
Don’t wait to medicate
There are a number of medications, from nasal sprays to antihistamines, that can treat allergies effectively, but you need to plan ahead.
They take some time to work, so start two to four weeks before allergy season.
“Allergy season varies depending on where you live and what your allergies are,” she said. “For most people, spring allergies due to tree pollens begin in February and last until early summer. For fall allergies due to ragweed pollen, primarily on the East Coast and [in the] Midwest, this season begins in August and lasts until the first frost, usually in November.”
On bad days, just stay inside
While Rubin recommends that serious patients seek treatment to avoid being cooped up at home, if seeing a doctor isn’t an option, staying out and keeping windows closed and air conditioning on is sometimes the best way to handle a situation. particularly brutal. pollen or ragweed day.
Skip the Benadryl
For many, Benadryl, also known as diphenhydramine, is the drug of choice. Not so fast, Rubin warns.
“[It] it can easily get into your brain and cause significant sedation that can easily last into the next day and disrupt your sleep cycle, worsening your sleep quality,” he said.
Other unpleasant side effects can include dry mouth, blurred vision, urinary retention and constipation, depending on the doctor.
Stick to the newer drugs like Claritin, Allegra and Xyzal, he said,
“[These] they have been modified to be less likely to enter your brain and cause sedation,” he said. “They are much safer to use.”
Don’t waste your money on local honey
“There is a lot of bad information on the internet about what you should do for a cough and cold,” he said. “The classic is, ‘Does local honey treat allergies?’”
“It’s a myth,” Rubin warned. “It’s the idea that if you eat local honey, you get some pollen and it can help with your allergies.”
Not really, he said.
“The pollen you get is very small and inconsistent; most of the time it is not the type of pollen that people are allergic to.”
Sleep is a powerful drug.
“People with severe allergies don’t sleep as well, and lack of sleep is linked to many health problems,” he said.
Rinse your sinuses before bed to help you sleep, and talk to your doctor about the best medications to take, he said.
Be kind to the person next to you, they might be hurting
“When people have significant allergy symptoms, they can have severe sinus pain and pressure that feels like migraines,” he said.
“It affects people’s quality of life, their ability to sleep, their mood, whether they can go to work. Hopefully people can see that and empathize.”