Monthly Archives: March 2016


Have an Egg-cellent Easter — Even With Food Allergies

Easter

Easter is a time for friends and family to come together and celebrate spring, the season of hope and rebirth. Unfortunately, if you have food allergies, there are some holiday traditions that can quickly turn that hope into despair. Let’s take a look at a few of them:

Easter Eggs

Mayo Clinic notes eggs as one of the most common food allergies for children. Reactions can include:

  • Skin inflammation or hives — the most common egg allergy reaction
  • Nasal congestion, runny nose and sneezing (allergic rhinitis)
  • Digestive symptoms, such as cramps, nausea and vomiting
  • Asthma signs and symptoms such as coughing, wheezing, chest tightness or shortness of breath

A severe reaction can result in anaphylaxis and requires medical attention immediately. And for people who are extremely sensitive to eggs, even just touching them can lead to a serious reaction. This is especially true for young children who may handle the egg and then touch their eyes or mouths.

However, egg allergy sufferers can still experience the egg-dying tradition that their non-allergic peers enjoy. EggNots, created by a loving aunt for her food-allergic young niece, are affordable, dyeable ceramic eggs that allow all the fun without the risk. Or, you can get plastic eggs and fill them with treats like candy or coins. Not only are the plastic kind colorful alternatives, they cost very little and are reusable year after year. Plus, everyone, no matter what age, loves to pop them open for their hidden treasures.

Candy

When it comes to candy sales, Easter is only second to Halloween. However, just like with its autumn cousin, this holiday candy is full of allergens:

  • Eggs
  • Milk
  • Peanuts
  • Tree nuts
  • Wheat
  • Gelatin
  • Food dyes/colors
  • Nickel (an ingredient in some types of chocolate)

Fortunately, this doesn’t mean that the big bunny is out of a job. With nutrition sciences constantly evolving, the list of allergy-friendly foods is quickly growing and there are plenty of alternatives to satisfy any sweet tooth. For an updated list of allergy-free Easter candy, click here.

Toys

You don’t usually think of toys having food allergens that can cause your child to have a serious reaction, but the truth is, some may. A Food Allergy Research & Education blog posted in February 2016 lists hidden food-related dangers in popular toys such as modeling compounds (e.g. Play Doh)  and stuffed animals — all of which are popular Easter gifts.

Of course, you must also be aware of other dangers when it comes to toys, for example, choking hazards. Small children tend to put everything in their mouths … or ears and nose. If the latter occurs, call our sister office, Westwood Ear, Nose and Throat, to  get you and your child out of that tight situation.

With some precautions taken, everyone can enjoy traditional Easter activities. At CT Sinus Center, we would like to wish you and your family a happy and healthy holiday! May your (Easter) basket always be full.

For more information on all things sinus and allergy, visit the CT Sinus Center website and blog.


Say “No” to Lifelong Sinus Medication

MedicationIf you are one of the 37 percent of Americans who suffer from sinus issues, you have two options: grin and bear it, or treat your condition. The problem is that, unlike the common cold or flu, sinus problems don’t go away. Sure, they can go into remission for a season or two, but unless you are one of the very few people who actually outgrow their allergies, the discomfort always comes back.

Eventually, even the most resilient sinus sufferer will take some action, whether it be over-the-counter, prescription or both. This treatment can include:

Again, if you only have to resort to these methods once or twice a year at the most, it’s not a big deal. But, if you are constantly seeking sinus relief, you can find that it gets quite costly — and extremely inconvenient. Of course, all of these temporary remedies have side effects as well. Click on the links above for more information on the risks associated with each method of treatment.

Making matters worse is the cost (monetary and otherwise) of constantly treating sinus and allergy problems. A recent study by the Academy of Allergy and Asthma in Primary Care discovered that per year, sinus sufferers (combined):

  • spend $17.5 billion on health costs
  • lose 6 million work and school days
  • make 16 million visits to the doctor

All of these recurrent expenditures can take a toll, and if you’re ready to cut through the repetition and find permanent relief for your sinus condition, come visit us at CT Sinus Center. Our expert physicians will take the time to sit down with you and thoroughly discuss your symptoms, your current treatment regime, and how we can help you find long-lasting relief. You may even be a candidate for turbinate reduction, an out-patient surgery in which nasal tissue is removed to increase airflow, and balloon sinus dilation, a quick in-house procedure done with local anesthesia, that can promote natural drainage and healing, and keep you breathing freely no matter the season.

Calling CT Sinus Center at (860) BALLOON to schedule an your appointment. And then get back to spending that time and money on the things you much rather be spending them on.
For more information on all things sinus and allergy, visit our website and blog.


Is Your Humidifier Making Your Sinus Condition Worse?

Is Your Humidifier Making Your Sinus Condition Worse?Fact: Dry air can cause sinus problems by drying out nasal passages and making mucus thicker. Thicker mucus leads to congestion, pressure and susceptibility to bacterial infections.

The good news:  A humidifier dispenses water vapor or steam, adding moisture to the air you breathe. When you inhale the air through your nose, the moisture helps decrease irritation, and therefore inflammation, of your nasal passages.  

The bad news: A humidifier that is not properly maintained can make your allergies and sinusitis worse.

So the question is: What must you do to keep your humidifier safe?

First, there are two types of humidifiers: cold and warm mist. While both are effective, it is recommended that homes with children avoid the warm mist units because if they are knocked over, there is a risk for getting burned. Cold mist units come in three types:

  • Evaporative models (most common) use a fan to blow air over a wet wick.
  • Ultrasonic humidifiers use a vibrating nebulizer to emit water.
  • Impeller models produce mist using a rotating disk.

All three types of humidifiers are beneficial; however, in order to keep them properly maintained and free from mold, bacteria and other allergens, here are some important things to keep in mind:

Humidity Level

Doctors recommend that the humidity level in your home stay between 30 and 50 percent. Any number below that results in dry air, and any number higher creates an atmosphere that is actually conducive to mold and bacteria. It also provides just the right climate for dust mites. If your unit doesn’t come with a gauge, you can buy an inexpensive hygrometer to use for monitoring your humidity levels.

Water

Use demineralized or distilled water in your humidifier tank. Tap water contains minerals that will settle in your tank’s reservoir and cause bacterial growth. Empty the tank and fill it with clean water for every use.

Cleaning

Wipe down the tank every day if possible. The Mayo Clinic suggests cleaning the entire unit every 3 days, removing “any mineral deposits or film from the tank or other parts of the humidifier with a 3 percent hydrogen peroxide solution, which is available at pharmacies.” Make sure to rinse well before using the humidifier.

Filters

Replace filters regularly per the manufacturer’s recommendation, or sooner if necessary.

Make sure you use the appropriate filter — using the wrong size or shape may cause leakage and will therefore be ineffective.

There is no arguing that humidifiers are an effective way of opening up your nasal passages and helping you breathe more easily. They are a useful complement to the perpetual cycle of allergy and sinusitis treatments involving decongestants, antihistamines, corticosteroids and nasal irrigation.

However, if you are ready to break that cycle, CT Sinus Center has a permanent solution.

When it comes to sinus and allergy relief, we are the leaders in our field. Our state-of-the-art, patient-centered care may be just what you need to get you back to feeling like yourself, minus your considerable sinus treatment routine. Schedule an appointment today to come in and speak with one of our expert physicians. We will take the time to talk to you about your symptoms and treatment options. You may be eligible for balloon sinus dilation, an in-office procedure that reshapes your nasal passages to allow increased airflow and natural draining and healing. In other words, it will put an end to your cumbersome (and expensive) sinus-care cycle forever — in as little as one hour.

Call (860) BALLOON today and take the first step to breathing easy.

For more information on all things sinus and allergy, visit our website and blog.

 


Are Corticosteroids Safe for Long-term Use?

Are Corticosteroids Safe for Long-term Use?

When you are suffering from the swelling and inflammation inherent in a sinus condition, including seasonal allergies, you’ll probably find yourself turning to over-the-counter decongestants and/or antihistamines for relief. However, if those don’t do the trick, and they often don’t, you’re going to need to see a doctor for something a little stronger. That something is usually a corticosteroid.

Available only by prescription, corticosteroids, also known as steroids, come in many forms, but are most commonly prescribed as a nose spray when treating sinusitis. Common brands of nasal corticosteroid are Beconase, Flonase, Nasocort, Nasonex, and Rhinocort, and you may also see it in its generic form, fluticasone. These are not the same type of steroids that athletes use, so if you’re looking to bulk up on muscle by relying on a corticosteroid and avoiding the gym, you’re out of luck.

A corticosteroid is a man-made substance designed to mimic the hormone cortisol, which is a natural histamine blocker produced by the body. Histamine is what your body releases when you are exposed to an allergen. It is what causes you to sneeze and have a runny nose and itchy eyes. Corticosteroids also decrease the inflammation that occurs when allergens and mucus build up in your sinus cavity, and this combination of effects makes the compound a highly successful treatment for sinus conditions.

However, for as much good as corticosteroids can do, they aren’t without their problems.

Because oral corticosteroids affect the entire body rather than just the problem area, they pose a greater risk than inhaled ones. Short-term side effects include:

  • Upset stomach
  • Increased blood sugar
  • Increased hunger
  • Behavior changes, trouble sleeping, irritability
  • Increased risk of pneumonia, thrush (white coating in the mouth), and other infections
  • Weight gain, salt and water retention
  • High blood pressure
  • Increased fat on the face (rounded face), upper back, and belly
  • Stretch marks on the skin, acne, poor wound healing, increased and unusual hair growth

Long-term use (three months or longer) presents additional risks:

  • All short-term side effects
  • Poor growth in children (can be severe)
  • Brittle bones (bones break easily, problems with hips and shoulder joints)
  • Muscle weakness
  • Diabetes
  • Eye problems

Nasal corticosteroids also have side effects. These include:

  • Dryness, burning, or stinging in the nasal passage
  • Sneezing
  • Throat irritation
  • Headaches and nosebleed (uncommon, but report these to your doctor right away).
  • Infection
  • Perforation (hole or crack) in nasal passages

When it comes to corticosteroid usage, you have to weigh the pros of relief versus the cons of side effects. If you only suffer from sinusitis occasionally, and don’t have seasonal allergies, corticosteroids may be perfectly appropriate. However, if you are experiencing chronic issues, there is another option.

CT Sinus Center offers state-of-the-art, patient-centered treatment that can alleviate your sinus inflammation without any side effects. We are the industry leaders in permanent relief, including an in-office procedure called balloon sinus dilation that, in just under an hour, can safely open and drain your sinus cavity for the long-term. And by long term, we mean permanently.

Schedule an appointment today by calling (860) BALLOON to see what our expert physicians can do for you. For more information on sinus conditions and treatments, visit our website and blog.


Allergy Myths: The Truth Is Out There

Myth: You can outgrow allergies.

Truth: Some children may outgrow their allergies, or become tolerant of them, but the majority of people suffer from allergies their entire lives. In fact, people often develop new allergies as they get older.

 

Myth: Allergy medications are best taken when symptoms flare up.

Truth: There are many over-the-counter and prescription allergy medications that are designed to provide relief for allergy sufferers, but most people wait to take them until they feel sick. However, once the allergy is in full-swing, it can be difficult to relieve its symptoms. Instead, doctors recommend that people “pretreat” instead by taking the medicine before they are exposed to the allergen, thereby preventing, or at least lessening, the allergic reaction.

 

Myth: You can build up a tolerance to allergy medications.

Truth: There is a very slight chance of this happening, but it is more likely that the allergies get worse and require a higher dosage of decongestants and/or antihistamines, which have their own side effects and dangers.

 

Myth: Moving to a dry climate will eliminate allergies.

Truth: A humid atmosphere can host many allergens, but contrary to what some people believe, so can a dry one. First, you can’t move away from everything that brings about allergies; there will always be triggers. Second, dry air causes your nasal passages to become inflamed and dry out, causing mucus to become thick and sticky, which in turn causes congestion and allergy symptoms.

 

Myth: A short-haired or hypoallergenic pet won’t trigger allergies.

Truth: Unfortunately for the dog or cat lover, there really is no furry friend that is completely non-allergenic. The problem is that the allergen isn’t the fur, it’s the dander — flakes of dead skin — and proteins found in the animal’s saliva and urine. The good news is that there are some dogs and cats that produce fewer allergens than others, but even those can provoke reactions.

 

Myth: There is no method of permanent allergy relief other than constantly taking medication.

Truth:  Balloon sinus dilation is a non-invasive procedure done in under an hour that can put an end to your allergy suffering forever, alleviating the need for medication altogether. The dilation expands nasal passages, promoting increased airflow, draining and natural healing.

 

If you are ready to discover the truth about allergies once and for all, call CT Sinus Center today at (860) BALLOON. Our expert physicians will sit down with you and thoroughly discuss your allergy triggers and symptoms and show you why we are the leader in permanent sinus relief. And that is a fact.
For more information on all things sinus and allergy, visit our website and our blog.