The main reason Dr. Steven attends World Allergy Organization meetings when he can is that allergy is not practiced the same everywhere. The information presented at these international meetings is often different from, and complements, information available at US meetings. This year's Congress in Lyon, France, was no different.
A great deal of work has been done worldwide in climate change and pollution. Regardless of the cause of climate change, pollen counts have been increasing along with average temperatures. Dr. Steven met with a scientist in Bavaria who has developed tools for better analyzing local pollen counts. We hope to have better insights into how our local pollen seasons have been changing by the 2020 pollen season. Watch for more info on this in our Pollen Explorer.
The most sobering information presented about climate change was a discussion of an ongoing case in the United Kingdom. The case sets a precedent as the first known asthma death of a nine-year-old girl proven to have died due to pollution. The girl's family lives near a pollution monitoring station, so there is data about pollution levels that can be compared with the timeline of the child's asthma symptoms. Every asthma attack resulting in an emergency room visit or hospitalization, including her last, was associated with an increase in pollution, especially from diesel exhaust.
Another striking theme of the meeting was a symposium that compiled over a decade of research about the full long-term impact of oral steroids like prednisone. Even as little as one or two bursts of prednisone per year for asthma exacerbations or chronic sinusitis can make a long-term difference. Efforts have been made to understand the long-term cost of complications of steroid use such as osteoporosis, high blood pressure, cataracts and glaucoma, obesity, diabetes, and ulcers. Most impressive was the realization that despite the very high costs of biologic therapies in asthma, at least one-fifth of their overall cost can be saved by avoiding the complications of intermittent prednisone use in severe asthmatics.
Dr. Steven also enjoys traveling abroad to take pictures of new places. Check out some of the photos Dr. Steven took in France on our waiting room screens in the office!