Monthly Archives: July 2016


Don’t Let Mold Ruin Your Summer

MoldWhen asked about how they are feeling in the hot weather, people will often say, “It’s not the heat that bothers me, it’s the humidity.” This is because high humidity inhibits a person’s ability to sweat, consequently keeping the body from doing that thing that cools it down. But for mold allergy suffers, there are additional concerns that arise during hot, humid weather because those conditions create a breeding ground for mold spores, especially in the home.

According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI), there are “roughly 1,000 species of mold in the United States — many of which aren’t visible to the naked eye.” WebMD also states that an estimated 5% of Americans suffer from mold allergies.

How do you know if you have a mold allergy? Here is a list of symptoms from the ACAAI, which as you can see, are very similar to those of pollen allergies:

  • Nasal congestion
  • Runny nose
  • Sneezing
  • Irritated eyes
  • Coughing
  • Wheezing
  • Itchy throat
  • Inducing or worsening asthma

Now while you can’t do much about humidity, you can take precautions against exposure to mold for yourself and your home. Mayo Clinic offers the following tips for keeping you and your family safe:

  • Stay indoors when the weather is especially damp or when the mold count is high.
  • Close windows at night because there are greater amounts of airborne mold spores during the cooler and damper part of the day.
  • Clean garbage cans and refrigerators often.
  • Wear a mask when cleaning moldy areas (bleach works well for cleaning mold) or if you are working outside in damp conditions.
  • Make sure that all bathrooms with showers or bathtubs are properly ventilated.
  • Don’t put carpet in rooms where mold can easily grow, such as bathrooms and basements.
  • Use a dehumidifier, but make sure to clean it regularly.
  • Turn on your air conditioning, especially one with a HEPA filter, and clean it regularly.
  • Have your furnace cleaned regularly.
  • Don’t leave paper items like books in damp places.

For an interactive tour of the areas of your home that can house mold, visit the US Environmental Protection Agency’s Mold House Tour.

If you think that you may be suffering from mold allergies, schedule an appointment with CT Sinus Center to find out for sure. Our expert physicians will take the time to sit down with you and discuss your symptoms before using up-to-date diagnostic techniques to see what is causing your suffering. Once they have determined what it is, they will create an individualized treatment plan based on your needs. That plan may include antihistamines, decongestants, corticosteroids, Montelukast or allergy shots. Or you may be eligible for one of our two outpatient procedures, both of which will provide permanent relief from your suffering:

  • Balloon Sinus Dilation, which will reshape your nasal passages, promoting draining and natural healing
  • Turbinate Reductions, in which the tissue in the nose that supports the nasal passages is decreased, decreasing the size of the turbinate and quickly increasing airflow

If you are ready to make your mold allergy old news, call us today at 860-BALLOON to schedule an appointment at one of our four conveniently-located offices.

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


Keeping Cool in the Heat

heatWith summer fully upon us, and temperatures skyrocketing, it’s easy to forget to take the time to protect yourself from the heat. It’s very important to keep in mind, however, that extreme temperatures can cause your body to overheat, putting you at risk for heat-related illnesses. And while some of these heat-induced reactions can be minor, some can be much more serious and even life threatening.   

Why do heat-related illnesses occur?

WebMD explains, “As your body works to cool itself under extreme or prolonged heat, blood rushes to the surface of your skin. As a result, less blood reaches your brain, muscles, and other organs,” and you become susceptible to a heat-related illness.

What is a heat-related illness?

The following is a list of the four heat-related conditions from least to most severe:

  1. Heat rash can occur when pores are blocked, trapping sweat under the skin. It manifests as hives and while uncomfortable, is not usually dangerous.
  2. Heat cramps are muscle spasms that usually occur in the arms, legs and abdominal muscles during strenuous activity. It is brought about by a loss of fluids, salt and other essential nutrients.
  3. Heat exhaustion also occurs with loss of fluids and salt during strenuous activity and can have a number of symptoms:
    • Cool, moist skin with goose bumps when in the heat
    • Heavy sweating
    • Faintness
    • Dizziness
    • Fatigue
    • Weak, rapid pulse
    • Low blood pressure upon standing
    • Muscle cramps
    • Nausea
    • Headache
  4. Heatstroke occurs when the body temperature rises to or above 104°. It is extremely serious and requires immediate medical care. The symptoms are:
    • Mental or behavior changes
    • Hot and dry skin
    • Flushed skin
    • Nausea and vomiting
    • Muscle weakness or cramps
    • Flushed skin
    • Lightheadedness or dizziness
    • Rapid, shallow breathing
    • Racing heart and pulse rate
    • Headache
    • Seizure
    • Unconsciousness

If you are aware of the symptoms of a heat-related illness, the sooner you recognize them and take action, the better chance the sufferer will recover quickly. Visit WebMD for instructions on what to do when you first spot the signs. That said, it’s best to be proactive and take precautions to avoid heat-related illnesses altogether.

How do I stay safe in the heat?

  1. Stay hydrated. Remember that caffeine and alcohol cause dehydration.
  2. Avoid strenuous activity. If you must exercise or do physical work, do it in air conditioning if possible or early in the morning or after sunset. Also listen to your body and don’t overdo.
  3. Wear light-colored, loose clothing; cotton is especially good.
  4. Wear a hat. It sound counterintuitive, but the right hat will keep your head cool, which in turn keeps your body temperature down. Hats with brims are especially good because they provide shade that literally moves with you.

As you can see, if you prepare for the heat, it is easy to keep yourself safe as the temperatures soar.

Everyone here at CT Sinus Center hopes you have a cool summer season!

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


5 Things to Know About Allergies at the Beach

BeachSummer is here and for many of us, that means packing up the car and heading to the beach. The trip is an especially nice break for seasonal allergy sufferers because due to the breeze coming off the water, and lack of trees and grasses, pollen counts at the shore are much lower than they are inland.

Unfortunately this doesn’t mean that there are no pesky allergy triggers lurking at the beach, and in this blog, we are going to look at some not-so-common irritants that you should be aware when you and your family hit the sand.

  1. Sun. We all know about the dangers of burning and melanoma, but did you know that people can also be allergic to the sun? We’re not talking about sunscreen, although that can trigger an allergic reaction as well; we mean the actual sun. Certain medical conditions and medications can make people extra sensitive to the sun, but others actually experience allergic reactions, even if exposed for a short time. These reactions are due to cholinergic or solar urticaria:
    • Cholinergic Urticaria, also known as heat rash, manifests as chronic hives caused by an increase in body heat. This temperature change can be due to many things, including warm weather and hot sun. For resources on the condition, visit CholinergicUrticaria.net.
    • Solar Urticaria occurs with direct exposure from the sun and manifests as a itching, redness and hives. Verywell.com explains, “[I]t appears that people with solar urticaria make allergic antibodies against various proteins found in their own skin. These proteins’ structure changes with sunlight, allowing the allergic reaction to occur.” If the reaction is severe enough, solar urticaria can lead to anaphylactic shock.
  2. Mold. This well-known allergen thrives in dampness and humidity, and these conditions are thriving in coastal and beach areas, both indoors and out.
  3. Dust mites. Where there is warmth and humidity, there are also dust mites. In fact, dust mites peak during the summer months both in coastal and inland areas (along with all the seasonal insects that can trigger allergic reactions).
  4. Water. H2O, itself, presents no danger to allergy sufferers, but we can’t say the same for some of the things in it.
    • According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, people are not actually allergic to chlorine, but it does function as an irritant and can cause skin redness, itchiness, inflammation and hives. It can also cause respiratory symptoms in people with asthma and allergic rhinitis.
    • Mayo Clinic describes swimmer’s itch as “an allergic reaction to microscopic parasites that burrow into your skin. The parasites associated with swimmer’s itch normally live in waterfowl and some animals that live near the water.” The red or purple bumps are annoying, but harmless, and don’t last long. They can, however, take days to develop.
  5. BBQs. Of course you should always be sensitive to people’s food allergies, but you’ll also want to consider how you are cooking that food. Grill fires built with wood such as mesquite, oak, cedar and hickory contain allergens that may affect people with sensitive tree allergies. Verywell.com cautions, “[I]t is possible to be allergic to the smoke, and to any food barbecued with the smoke.”

Summertime should be all about living easy and taking advantage of the warm weather. With an understanding of the risks associated with the season, you will be able to make sure you and your family enjoy safe and healthy fun in the sun!

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


What is Sublingual Immunotherapy (SLIT)?

Sublingual ImmunotherapyPreviously we took a look at whether allergy shots are right for you, and this week we are discussing another form of immunotherapy: sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT). Immunotherapy itself, defined by Mayo Clinic, is a “carefully timed and gradually increased exposure to allergens, particularly those that are difficult to avoid, such as pollens, dust mites and molds.”

What is SLIT?

In sublingual immunotherapy, allergy tablets are placed under the patient’s tongue to dissolve. Unlike allergy medications (antihistamines, decongestants and corticosteroids), these tablets are made from allergens and are designed to increase tolerance rather than relieve symptoms. The treatment is administered up to to three times a week (often daily) and may be continue for over three years. As the therapy progresses, the patient becomes more and more resistant to the allergen, eventually becoming immune to it altogether.

According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, currently sublingual immunotherapy has only been approved to treat grass and ragweed pollen allergies, so it is essential that you are tested to see exactly what you’re allergic to before taking this route. That said, studies indicate that SILT is safe and effective for other allergens, but it has not yet been approved to treat them.

The pros and cons of SLIT (per ACAAI):

Pros:

  • Permanent relief for a grass or ragweed allergies
  • Risk is usually mild, presenting as itchy mouth or stomach problems, early in treatment
  • Administered at home

Cons of SLIT (per ACAAI):

  • Currently only treats grass or ragweed allergies
  • Anaphylaxis is rare, but may occur
  • Not administered under direct medical supervision

When considering sublingual immunotherapy, you’ll want to take some of the same factors into account as you did with allergy shots:

  • Cost, monetary and time-wise
  • Commitment to long-term medication
  • Severity and length of symptoms
  • Effectiveness of over-the-counter or prescription medication

Is there another path to permanent relief?

At CT Sinus Center, we have perfected two innovative procedures that can put an end to your allergy suffering of all kinds, including pollen, dust mites, pet dander and mold. When you come in for a consultation with our expert physicians, we will take the time to discuss all of your symptoms and what treatments you’ve tried so far. Next, we’ll perform thorough diagnostic testing to figure out what you’re allergic to. After that, we will clearly and comprehensively explain our diagnosis and your treatment options. You may be eligible for Balloon Sinus Dilation, which will reshape your nasal passages, effectively eliminating the chances of continued problems. Or perhaps Turbinate Reductions, in which the tissue in the nose that supports the nasal passages is decreased, decreasing the size of the turbinate and quickly increasing airflow, is your best bet. Whichever procedure is right for you, it will end your allergy suffering in one shot.

To see what we can do for you, call CT Sinus Center today at 860-BALLOON and schedule an appointment at one of our four conveniently-located offices.

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