Monthly Archives: October 2015

Avoiding Food Allergies: Tricks for Treats


The most frightening part of Halloween is not what creeps in the dark, but what lurks in your child’s trick-or-treat bag.  Some of the most common food allergens are present in a good portion of traditional Halloween candy. These hidden dangers can be any of the following:

  • Eggs
  • Milk
  • Peanuts
  • Tree nuts
  • Wheat
  • Gelatin
  • Food dyes/colors

Some people have what is known as a food intolerance, which means that their exposure to these allergens may cause a temporary discomfort, which while not at all fun, is not serious. On the other hand, people who suffer from food allergies develop severe symptoms that require medical attention. These dangerous reactions can begin within two minutes to two hours, and present with any or all of the following:

  • Tingling or itching in the mouth
  • Hives, itching or eczema
  • Runny, stuffy nose, watery eyes, sneezing
  • Swelling of the lips, face, tongue and throat or other parts of the body
  • Wheezing or trouble breathing
  • Abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea or vomiting
  • Dizziness, lightheadedness or fainting

In many instances, these symptoms will lead to Anaphylaxis. When the body goes into Anaphylaxis, it is essentially going into shock. At this point, the person will experience:

  • Sudden drop in blood pressure
  • Narrowing of airways, making it difficult to breathe
  • Rapid, weak pulse
  • Skin rash
  • Nausea and vomiting

Anaphylaxis is a life-threatening condition and requires medical attention immediately. The moment you even suspect your child is experiencing any of these symptoms, dial 911.

As a parent, merely thinking about the threat of your child suffering from a food allergy may just scare you to death. But before you call off Halloween traditions for good, read our following suggestions on how to have an allergy-free Halloween.

Read labels carefully. Sometimes you’ll find allergens you’d never expect in certain foods so look closely at the ingredients of everything. Did you know that the allergy warnings on different candies from the same company may be different depending on the size of the treat? For example, a full-size chocolate bar may have a different warning than a fun-sized one. Also, the FDA doesn’t require manufacturers to include advisory labels such as “May contain wheat.” While most candy makers will, it is best to err on the side of caution. For more information on this topic, click here.

Don’t leave candy your child can’t have laying around. Do you know what makes candy taste even better to any child? Being told she or he can’t have it. If you have candy that contains allergens in the house, keep it out of sight and mind.

Hand out food allergy-friendly candy. Even if your child does not have food allergies, you’re never sure which little zombie or super hero may. Play it safe for everyone.

Keep it clean. Sometimes just touching an allergen will trigger a reaction. Instead of letting your child reach into the candy bowl, ask the adult to drop it in the bag. Carry antiseptic wipes in case your child does handle a troublesome piece of candy, or better yet, work a pair of gloves into her or his costume.

Create new Halloween traditions. Instead of trick-or-treating (which in these days seems to be less common anyway), throw a Halloween party stocked with spooky activities and delicious allergy-free treats.

Carry your child’s self-injectable epinephrine pen. It’s always best to be cautious and ready.

By simply taking these precautions, you can help ensure that the only frights you have this season are those of the fun kind.

The physicians and staff of  CT Sinus Center wish you a spooktacular (and safe) Halloween!
(For more information on all things  allergies, visit the CT Sinus Center website.)

What to Do When You’re Allergic to Your Pet


You’ve adopted a new furry family member and you and the kids couldn’t be more excited. However, the minute you get home, you start to feel as if you were just hit with a terrible head cold with any number of the following symptoms:

  • Runny nose and nasal congestion
  • Watery or itchy eyes
  • Sneezing
  • Coughing
  • Itchy nose, roof of mouth or throat
  • Sinus pressure and facial pain
  • Raised, red patches of skin (hives)
  • Itchy skin

Maybe you figure the cold’s timing is just bad luck, or maybe it’s  seasonal allergies, but after a week, you see little improvement — at least when you’re at home. When you’re out of the house, while you don’t feel 100%, you do feel a little better. And then you begin to think about when you began having your cold-like symptoms, and you realize it was the day you brought Fido home.

Pet allergies are commonly triggered by allergens that are present in the skin cells that dogs and cats shed. The shed flakes, called dander, can remain airborne for quite some time, which means that even when Fido isn’t around, his allergens still may be. Additional allergens can also be found in animals’ saliva, urine, and sweat. If you have a pet, or are around pets, the irritants are hard to ignore. At best, pet allergies can be annoying, at worst, they can have serious complications such as sinus infections or worsened asthma. (Important: If you are having difficulty breathing, whether or not you have asthma, seek medical help immediately.)

Now that you suspect you have a pet allergy, what are you going to do? Your kids have already fallen in love with your four-pawed friend, and the truth is, so have you. So before you panic and rush him to a shelter, take a deep breath and try out some of these home remedies:

  • Give your pet a bath often. Full baths are very effective, but so are pet wipes.
  • Run high-efficiency particulate air purifiers (HEPA) and let in fresh air.
  • Eliminate as many dander-traps as possible, including carpets. If you can’t do that, steam clean your carpet as often as possible. For furniture, you may want to invest in allergen-resistant covers, which are available at medical supply stores.

If those remedies don’t do the trick, it’s time to schedule a consultation with CT Sinus and see what we can do for you. When you come in, our patient-centered physicians will take the time to sit down with you and thoroughly discuss your symptoms, diagnostic methods, and available treatment options. In some cases, you may be eligible for Balloon Sinus Dilation: a non-invasive procedure, available only at CT Sinus Center, that may put an end to your allergies of all kinds.

For more information on how CT Sinus Center can offer you forever relief while you give your new friend a forever home, book your appointment by calling (860) BALLOON.

Dysphagia: A Diagnosis That’s Hard to Swallow


Dysphagia is a condition in which a person has difficulty swallowing food or liquid. Of course, we’ve all had a hard time swallowing something, especially if we didn’t like it, or coughed when our food “went down the wrong pipe,” but persistent dysphagia can be a sign of a serious disorder of the throat or esophagus. The condition is most often seen in the elderly or in people with a neurological disorder.

A person suffering from dysphagia will feel either like she or he cannot control the muscles in the throat necessary to make the food/liquid go down or that something is actually blocking the food/liquid from going down. In addition to physical ailments, the condition may have social manifestations as well. For example, a sufferer may no longer want to dine with friends and family, either at home or out, feeling embarrassed at how long it takes to eat or the coughing that occurs after every couple of bites. The sufferer may also stop enjoying meals that she or he once enjoyed. As you can imagine, the problem can be frustrating and frightening, and if left alone, can lead to malnutrition, extreme weight loss, and dehydration.

Some of the most common symptoms of dysphagia are:

  • coughing or choking
  • pain when swallowing
  • inability to swallow
  • drooling
  • regurgitation
  • the feeling of having food stuck in the throat or chest

There are many possible causes of dysphagia, and when you make an appointment at our sister branch, Westwood Ear, Nose and Throat, one of our knowledgeable physicians will sit down with you and thoroughly discuss your history with the problem. He will then complete a series of non-invasive swallowing tests called Fiber Optic Endoscopic Evaluation of Swallowing, or Flexible Endoscopic Evaluation of Swallowing with Sensory Testing, in order to assess the functions of the back of the tongue, throat, and larynx. Depending on your particular symptoms, the doctor may also examine the esophagus.

Once a diagnosis is made, the condition can be treated in a number of different ways with medicine, muscle relaxers, antacids, exercises, and/or dietary and lifestyle changes. In severe cases, a surgery called myotomy, which stretches or dilates the constricted part of the throat or esophagus, may be performed.  

However, no matter the severity of your dysphagia or the extent of treatment needed, the expert physicians and facilities at our sister branch Westwood Ears, Nose and Throat offer a relief that is just a phone call away. For more information on diagnostic procedures or to book an appointment, call (888) 230-3715. Don’t let dysphagia prevent you or a loved one from living life to the fullest.

Meet the CT Sinus Center Team: Dr. Marcus


Here at CT Sinus Center we understand that having faith in your physician is a top priority when you seek medical treatment. But in order to have this confidence, you need to know that your doctor is knowledgeable, skilled, and has a comforting bedside manner. Of course, we couldn’t agree more and that is why the only experts we invite to join our team are ones that we would want treating our own families. In that light, today we would like to introduce the newest member of the CT Sinus Center team, Dr. Larry Marcus, MD, MS, FACS.

Dr. Marcus specializes in otolaryngology within the head and neck. Born in Texas, he moved to Nebraska with his family where he would later attend the Nebraska College of Medicine. Upon graduation, Dr. Marcus was off to New York City where he completed his residency in otolaryngology/head and neck surgery at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital.

Dr. Marcus’s talents have served him well in nearly thirty professional appointments and positions throughout the country, including in New York, Nebraska, Iowa, Ohio and Texas. His passion for the field and his desire to share his knowledge even brought him into the classroom to teach otolaryngology at Creighton University School of Medicine and the University of Texas Medical School. Without us even mentioning Dr. Marcus’s numerous professional associations within the industry, including a fellowship with the American Academy of Otolaryngology — Head and Neck Surgery, it is clear that he is a leader in his field.

In addition to Dr. Marcus’s vast knowledge about sinus, head, and neck issues, his ability to explain complex medical procedures to his patients makes him an extremely valuable asset to CT Sinus Center. When you schedule an appointment with Dr. Marcus or any of our excellent physicians, you can be assured that you’ll receive the individualized attention and care you deserve.

And while  Dr. Marcus also holds a master’s degree in Management from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, it isn’t all work and no play for the expert physician. In his spare time, he can be found with his wife and two daughters spending time in the great outdoors, at a Broadway show, or at the horse races.

So if you find that you are in need of a doctor specializing in sinus conditions, look no further than CT Sinus Center. At all three of our locations, we offer everything you need ears, nose and throat — and in many cases, same-day, permanent treatment. To schedule a consultation with Dr. Marcus or any of our other exceptional physicians, book an appointment today. For more information on ENT issues, visit our website and check into our blog weekly!