Monthly Archives: October 2016

How to Have a Fang-tastic and Allergy-free Halloween

The spookiest time of the year is upon us again and while ghosts and ghouls may not be real, the dangers inherent in the Halloween season are.

When you think of Halloween allergies, probably the first thing that comes to mind is scary stuff about treats and food allergies. For more information on those and how to keep those frightful triggers from attacking, visit our blog “Avoiding Food Allergies: Tricks for Treats.”

However, don’t breath a sigh of relief just yet. There are a few Halloween threats that are still lurking in the shadows. The following list shines a light on them to help keep you safe:

Costumes. Sure a scary costume will cause your heart to beat faster and make it difficult to breath, but it may actually be the costume itself that is causing the discomfort. Be on the lookout for latex or nickel, materials that are commonly found in masks, pieces of costume clothing, and accessories. Make sure to check all the labels on even the smallest costume item.

Makeup. As we discussed in “A Beauty Products Allergy: Not Just Skin-Deep,” many ingredients in makeup can result in a type of allergy called contact dermatitis. For more information on skin allergies and their causes, visit our blog “Scratching Out Skin Allergies.” Also, latex found in special effects makeup can trigger a severe reaction and even anaphylaxis. Again, be sure to check all labels before using.

Anything that has been packed away. Costumes and decorations that have spent the last 11 or 12 months packed away in a box may be full of dust and mold. Be sure to clean them thoroughly before using as the allergens can be dangerous for people with allergies or asthma.

Fog. Smoke machines that create fog are really cool, but they are only fun until someone can’t breathe. The American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology explains that “the irritant effect of short term exposure to water-based fog machines – particularly when the chemical glycol is used could trigger acute asthma symptoms.” This occurs because this type of machine reduces oxygen levels, which can be dangerous even for people without these conditions.

Cold. It’s likely that on Halloween, it’s pretty cold out and staying out in the lower temperature during trick-or-treating can make allergies and asthma worse. Combine that with the physical activity of going house to house and it can be a real fright. Remember, too, that this is leave season, which also means mold season, which is also an allergy trigger. Make sure to dress warmly and be aware of the start of any respiratory issues, and take breaks if necessary.

Emotions. Halloween ‘tis the season of being scared and excited, and this is supposed to be fun for everyone. However, did you know that emotional responses such as these can trigger both allergy and asthma attacks? If you are someone you know suffers from either, keep an eye out for reactions during any highly emotional period and act accordingly.

Keep these tips in mind and everyone is sure to have a bootiful time. Everyone here at CT Sinus Center hopes that this Halloween you all eat, drink, be safe and be scary!

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

A Beauty Products Allergy: Not Just Skin-Deep

Beauty productsHave you ever tried some new beauty products for the first time and broken out into hives? Or maybe after a year or so, the body wash you’ve used every day began to make your skin itch. A well-cited survey conducted by the FDA states that “up to 25% of people said they had a skin reaction to at least one beauty product.” The reaction is called contact dermatitis, and the strange thing is that even if you have used a product for a long time, you can develop an allergy to it.

Contact dermatitis can occur in two ways:

  1. Irritant contact dermatitis is a skin reaction in which the substance has caused damage to your skin. This type of response manifests as burning, itching, redness and blisters.
  2. Allergic contact dermatitis affects your immune system and causes itching, redness, hives and even swelling. WebMD explains, “Your skin can get red and raw. You can get an allergic reaction on any part of your body, although it happens most often on the face, lips, eyes, ears, and neck.”

There are a few ingredients in beauty products that can make your skin look and feel not so beautiful. The best best is to always check the label before buying a product, especially if you know you are allergic to a particular chemical, and with some, such as hair dye or face cream, it’s best to do a spot check before you use it regularly. Even things that are labeled “non-irritating,” “hypoallergenic,” “for sensitive skin,” or “unscented” might contain something can trigger a reaction in some people. Instead, look for “fragrance-free” on the label of your beauty products.

WebMD has compiled a general list of the irritants found in many cosmetics. They include:

  • Fragrances in soaps, colognes, deodorants, body creams, cosmetics, detergents and tissues
  • Preservatives and antibacterials, added to many liquids to keep them from spoiling
  • Substances added to thicken, color or lubricate a product
  • Chemicals in permanent hair dyes and other hair products
  • Formaldehyde resin, an ingredient in many nail care products
  • Sunscreens, often found in cosmetic moisturizers, lip balms and foundations

Everyday Health provides a list of specific ingredients that includes:

  • Metals, such as aluminum; nickel; cobalt; chromium and lead, found in antiperspirants, hair dyes and makeup
  • Acid in products designed to remove dead skin cells, treat acne and oily skin, or normalize skin cell maturation and help promote collagen stimulation
  • Emollients, such as lanolin; coconut butter; cocoa butter; isopropyl palmitate; isostearyl isosterate; and myristyl lactate, found in moisturizers
  • Sulfates found in shampoo, body wash and soap
  • Essential oils found in shampoos, conditioners, body lotions and face creams

For more information on allergens in cosmetics, regulation and safe use, visit the U.S. Food & Drug Administration’s “Consumers” pages under the “Cosmetics” tab.

What do you do if you think you may be allergic to one of your beauty products?

First, stop using it. Next, schedule an appointment with CT Sinus Center for thorough testing and a clear diagnosis on what is triggering your allergic reaction. Once the allergy is determined, our expert physicians will discuss all possible treatment options and put you on an individualized treatment plan that makes sure your personal hygiene routine won’t make you sick.

Call 860-BALLOON to schedule your appointment at one of CT Sinus Center’s four conveniently-located offices today.

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

Gluten Sensitivity: It Does Exist

gluten sensitivityOne of the most troublesome and frustrating things about experiencing bloating from a gluten sensitivity is that the problem can often go undiagnosed for years. This is partly because up until very recently, the medical world didn’t recognize non-celiac, non-wheat allergy discomfort as a thing. Another reason is that bloating can be caused by a number of dietary issues as well as water gain, dehydration, stress, medication, and illness, and there had not previously been a scientific way to tie it to gluten consumption.

Luckily for sufferers today, the condition is becoming widely recognized. According to the article “Is Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity Real?” on WebMD, “Between 0.5 percent and 6 percent of the general population are estimated to have non-celiac wheat sensitivity.” However, Armin Alaedini, a senior researcher and assistant professor of medicine at Columbia University, points out that this is not an exact number as to date, there haven’t been accurate diagnostic tools or studies on the condition.

That said, we may be getting closer to a true diagnostic test as the article continues on to state that “Some people suffer changes within their bodies after eating gluten that are separate and distinct from those that accompany either celiac disease or wheat allergy, researchers report.” In other words, first science has confirmed that gluten sensitivity exists and now is getting closer to isolating the substance that triggers it.

All of that said, for those people who do experience bloating from a gluten sensitivity, the connection may be recognizable once they think about their eating habits and when the discomfort occurs. Even before people began to understand that the illness exists. Sufferers may have also realized that they experience many of the other ailments now linked to the condition:

  • Brain fog
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Heartburn and burping
  • Abdominal pain
  • Bloating
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Headaches
  • Bone or joint pain
  • Tingling in hands or feet
  • Chronic fatigue

As of today, the best way to avoid a gluten reaction is to remove wheat from your diet. Unfortunately, this is easier said than done as gluten is a commonly used ingredient in many of the foods we eat on a daily basis. So to help you plan gluten-free meals, the Celiac Disease Foundation has compiled a list of sources of gluten and their derivatives to avoid as well as one of foods that are safe to eat. WebMd also offers tips for gluten-free living in this sideshow. Last but not least, many companies are now making gluten-free products to meet the growing demands of consumers looking to avoid gluten for any reason.

Do you want to spice up your own gluten-free diet? Check out the following recipe sites that offer such delicious cuisine that even people who have no gluten reaction will find the meals delightful:

If you think that you or someone you love is suffering from a gluten sensitivity, schedule an appointment at CT Sinus Center for food allergy testing. Our expert physicians will take the time to thoroughly discuss your diet and symptoms before administering diagnostic testing. Although there is no exact test for gluten sensitivity, by process of elimination and dietary counseling, we’ll get you back to feeling and eating healthy in no time.

Call 860-BALLOON to schedule an appointment at one of our four conveniently-located offices.

And for all things allergy– and sinus-related, check out the CT Sinus website and blog.

Fall Allergies and Your Child

CT Sinus – Fall AllergiesHave you noticed that your child seems to be a bit under the weather with the recent season change? Maybe he has been coughing or sneezing more or rubbing her nose or eyes. Once again, you find yourself asking, “Is this a cold, or allergies?” and wondering what you can do to make your little one feel better.

While colds and allergies often mimic each other, there are differences in the intensity and frequency of the symptoms. Most importantly, a cold doesn’t last over 14 days, so if by day 15 your child is still suffering, he or she may have allergies. (If you’d like to see a side-by-side comparison of allergies and a cold, WebMD has provided this chart with general guidelines.)

Allergies are very common in little ones. In a recent study of children under 18 in the U.S., the Center for Disease Control (CDC) cited:

Allergies are very common in little ones. In a recent study of children under 18 in the U.S., the Center for Disease Control (CDC) cited:

When it comes to children’s allergies, the allergens are the same culprits as those that trigger adult reactions:

So really it’s not the specific allergens that are different for the different age groups, but different conditions in which the sufferers are exposed. Let’s take a look.

  • Outside. Of course adults will spend some time out in nature during fall, but kids are likely to spent a lot more time out there playing amongst the mold and the pollen. There aren’t too many kids that will be able to resist a great big pile of leaves, which unfortunately are a breeding ground for allergy triggers.
  • School. Children spend a large chunk of their lives at school. And while school staff puts in as much effort as possible to keep the building free of dust, mold, and other irritants, sometimes it’s just hard to get it all. This is because with all of the school’s nooks and crannies and the amount of children running around stirring things up, there is only so much anyone can do to keep the building allergy-free.
  • Hygiene: Children tend to touch everything, and that’s okay because it’s a part of their innate curiosity and development. Some kids, especially toddlers, will then put their hands — and the objects themselves — into their mouths, unintentionally ingesting mold spores and pollen. The best way to keep little hands as allergen-free as possible is to routinely wash them and use hand sanitizer whenever possible. Frequent baths or showers will help too, especially after a long day of play outside. If only kids loved to wash up as much as we’d like them to.

The question remains: With fall allergies surrounded your child, how can you keep him or her happy and healthy? Well, you can go the medication route with antihistamines, decongestants, nasal sprays and allergy shots. Or you can make an appointment with our subsidiary office Westwood Ear, Nose and Throat and see what we can do to help.

After our expert physicians perform thorough diagnostic procedures to figure out exactly what your child is allergic to, we will come up with an individualized treatment plan that will help your child leave fall allergies behind. If that plan includes removing tonsils or adenoids, inserting tubes in the ears, or fixing a deviated septum, our patient-centered manner of care will put both you and your child completely at ease.

Don’t let your child suffer from fall allergies any longer. Call (203) 574-5997 for an appointment at one of Westwood Ear, Nose & Throat’s three conveniently-located offices today.

For all things sinus and allergy, visit the CT Sinus Center website and blog. For all things ear, nose and throat, visit the Westwood Ear, Nose & Throat website and blog.