Monthly Archives: April 2017

The Truth About Essential Oils and Allergies

Essential oilsFor the last couple of years, there has been a lot of buzz about essential oils, especially for allergies. There are oils to relieve headaches, congestion, scratchy throats and inflammation among other ailments, but the following questions arise:

  • Are they safe?
  • Do they really work?

Well, the truth is the answers aren’t quite as clear cut as you might think, and they highly depend on whom you’re asking.

What is an essential oil?

Mayo Clinic explains:

Essential oils used in aromatherapy are typically extracted from various parts of plants and then distilled. The highly concentrated oils may be inhaled directly or indirectly or applied to the skin through massage, lotions or bath salts.

Aromatherapy is thought to work by stimulating smell receptors in the nose, which then send messages through the nervous system to the limbic system — the part of the brain that controls emotions.

The U.S. National Library of Medicine states that:

“Laboratory studies and animal studies have shown that certain essential oils have antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, calming, or energizing effects.”

On the other hand, there are people, both inside and outside of the science field, that claim that essential oils are nothing but a placebo, and that use can actually be harmful. This side of the debate can be seen in the Time article “You Asked: Does Aromatherapy Really Work?

So, which side is right?

Again, there is no definitive answer. Part of the reason there is no general consensus, even among the aromatherapy community, is that FDA approval isn’t required for essential oils, meaning that there are no strict standards that companies must adhere to when producing and marketing them. Consumer Reports explains:

Currently there is no proof that the practice can cure any illness. For many of the “softer” claims—such as its purported role as a sleep aid or pain reducer—there has been little testing, and the scientific research that has been conducted has generally yielded conflicting results.

The truth is, like most anything else, if not used properly, essential oils can be dangerous. For a list of possible risks associated with misuse of essential oils, visit the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy and Poison Control.

That said, when used correctly, most people agree that the oils are safe. The effectiveness, however, depends on a number of factors:

  • Concentration of oil
  • Way it is used (diffused, topical, or ingested, the latter not recommended without doctor supervision)
  • Individual people’s chemistry (oils may work for one person and not for another and some may cause a negative reaction for one person and not others.)

Unfortunately, right now there is no direct scientific proof for any of this. However, essential oils have been used for over 5,000 years, and many people, both inside and outside of the medical field, swear by them — maybe not as a cure-all, but as complementary treatments. For example the National Cancer Institute explains that aromatherapy “is used with other complementary treatments (e.g., massage and acupuncture) as well as with standard treatments for symptom management.”

If you are suffering from allergies and thinking about trying essential oils for relief, talk to your doctor first (which is advice we always give prior to starting any physical or medical routine). If you get the go-ahead, be sure to do your research on oils and companies. You’ll want an oil that is 100% essential, not one filled with fillers and synthetic substances. Healthy and Natural World provides the top oils and their usage for allergies:

  • Peppermint
  • Lavender
  • Chamomile
  • Tea tree
  • Lemon
  • Lemongrass
  • Bergamot
  • Eucalyptus
  • Sandalwood
  • Thyme
  • Oregano
  • Frankincense
  • Clove
  • Rosemary
  • Basil

On the other hand, if you are looking for something more permanent for your allergies, make an appointment with CT Sinus Center to see how we can help.

Our expert physicians are well versed on all the essentials of sinus conditions and can help you figure out exactly what is causing your symptoms and how to treat them. When you come in for your appointment, we’ll sit down with you and discuss your symptoms and medical history. Next, we’ll conduct a series of tests that will tell us exactly what is causing your allergic reaction so that we can come up with an individualized treatment plan that is right for you and your lifestyle.

Call 860-BALLOON today and schedule your appointment. With four conveniently-located offices across the state, just follow your nose to the closest one. Then, sit back and relax with your calming essential oils and your peace of mind that your sinus suffering is over.

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

Acetaminophen and Sinus Headaches

Business worker at office with sinus painWhen you’re not feeling well, especially if you have a sinus headache, you may reach for something to relieve your pain. You’ll very likely choose one of two over-the-counter common pain relievers:

  • NSAIDs
  • Acetaminophen

NSAIDs are a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug that comes in three forms: aspirin (Bayer, Bufferin, Excedrin), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB) and naproxen (Aleve). These pills come with the risk of the side effects, the degree of which depending on factors such as age, medical issues and drug interactions.

People who can’t, or rather not, take NSAIDs, may take acetaminophen, brand name Tylenol. Acetaminophen is an analgesic and an antipyretic (used to prevent or relieve fever) drug. The risk of side effects acetaminophen are rare, but do exist. Healthline lists them as:

  • Allergic reactions like skin rash, itching or hives, swelling of the face, lips, or tongue
  • Breathing problems
  • Fever or sore throat
  • Redness, blistering, peeling or loosening of the skin, including inside the mouth
  • Trouble passing urine or change in the amount of urine
  • Unusual bleeding or bruising
  • Unusual weakness or exhaustion
  • Yellowing of the eyes or skin

It is very important to take the prescribed dosage of acetaminophen because of the possibility of overdosing. It’s also important to be aware whether or not the other medicines you are taking contain the drug because of overdose risk. Signs of an overdose (per include:

First 24 hours:

  • Nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, and loss of appetite
  • Paleness
  • Tiredness
  • Sweating

24 to 72 hours after the overdose, you may also have any of the following:

  • Pain in your upper right side
  • Dark urine
  • Urinating less often than usual
  • Skin and the whites of your eyes turn yellow

72 to 96 hours after the overdose, you may also have any of the following:

  • Blood in your urine
  • Fever, lightheadedness, or fainting
  • Fast breathing or trouble breathing
  • Extreme weakness or tiredness
  • Feeling very hungry, or shaking
  • Blurred vision, a fast heartbeat, or headache that will not go away
  • Trouble staying awake
  • Confusion
  • Coma

If you experience any of these symptoms, get emergency help immediately. There are tests and treatments that can be done to detect and counteract the overdose, and the sooner the better. Overdose can lead to liver damage.

Even with a safe dosage, talking acetaminophen carries risks. Before you take it, contact your doctor if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, have liver disease or drink alcohol often. Also, Mayo Clinic warns that taking acetaminophen may cause false results with glucose and other medical tests.

For most people, at the right dosage, acetaminophen is helpful and safe. However, its results are also temporary. If you are looking for a more permanent solution for your sinus headaches, reach for the phone and call CT Sinus Center today. When you come in, our expert team will take the time to sit down with you and discuss your symptoms and medical history. Next, they’ll perform a series of tests to get to the bottom of what is causing your headache and develop an individualized treatment plan that fits your lifestyle. You may even be a candidate for one of our two outpatient procedures, both of which will end your suffering in around an hour:

  • 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

Stop letting a sinus headache make you lose your grip. Call us today at 860-BALLOON, and start breathing a sigh of relief. With four conveniently-located offices, help is just around the corner.

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

Protect Your Child From Spring Allergies

ChildFinally spring has sprung and your child is probably running for the outdoors after being cooped up in the house all winter. But as soon as you started opening up the windows and letting that fresh air in, you may have noticed that your child has started suffering with a scratchy throat and stuffy nose. Just like last year.

What is going on with this poor timing of your kids getting sick right when they can go spend some time outside? It just may be that your child isn’t suffering from a head cold at all, but rather from allergies.

Children can develop allergies from as young as 12 months old and usually show signs of them before they reach age 10 (although symptoms can begin outside of that age range). According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology:

  • In 2012, 9.0% or 6.6 million children reported hay fever in the past 12 months.
  • In 2012, 10.6% or 7.8 million children reported respiratory allergies in the past 12 months.
  • Worldwide, sensitization rates to one or more common allergens among school children are currently approaching 40%-50%.

While the good news is that many children outgrow allergies in later adulthood, you’re still concerned about them right now. And you should be. KidsHealth explains that:

Seasonal allergies not only make life miserable for your child [causing restless sleep, exhaustion, trouble concentrating], but if left untreated, they can lead to some greater long-term health problems, such as sinusitis, chronic ear infections, and even asthma.

The even better news is that there are some things you can do today to help ease your child’s suffering. First and foremost, make an appointment with your doctor or an ENT specialist such as one of the expert physicians at our sister practice Westwood Ear, Nose and Throat. Our staff will make you and your child feel at ease from the moment you walk in the door and throughout the entire visit. We’ll begin by talking to you and your child about their medical history and symptoms. Next, we’ll perform thorough testing to determine exactly what is triggering the allergies. Finally, we’ll develop an individualized treatment plan that is perfect for your child.

Help your child hop happily into the season and away from allergy symptoms. Call Westwood ENT today at (888) 230-3715 and schedule your appointment at one of our four conveniently-located offices.

For tips on keeping your child with allergies (and any adults too) healthy this season, visit our blogs:

To help your child learn more about their allergies, visit the KidsHealth page “Learning About Allergies” for educational articles in fun and easy-to-understand kid-speak.

And last, but not least, for all of your other allergy and sinus-related questions, visit the CT Sinus Center webpage and blog.

Diseases Associated with Nasal Polyps

Most of the time, nasal polyps, painless tear-drop or grape-shaped growths in the nasal cavity, are annoying, but harmless. Unfortunately, there are rare cases when the polyps are an indication of a more serious issue. If you do feel a lump in your nose, it’s important to see a doctor for a correct diagnosis. The odds are it’ll be nothing that a corticosteroid or even just time will cure, but if it does turn out to be something more, you’ll be in the right place for the treatment you need.

The following is a quick look at some of the diseases associated with nasal polyps:

  • Chronic sinusitis is a common condition wherein the area around nasal passages, or sinuses, become swollen. This can last for eight weeks or more, despite store-bought and other usual treatment attempts, and recurs. The continuous inflammation brought on by allergies (especially fungal allergies) and sinus problems leads to nasal polyps.
  • Aspirin-exacerbated respiratory disease (AERD), also known as aspirin-induced asthma or Samter’s Triad, is a condition in which a person has a sensitivity to aspirin and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). This condition usually presents as a respiratory reaction and consequently, nasal polyps. According to the American Academy of Asthma, Allergy & Immunology, “In general, AERD develops quite suddenly in adulthood, usually between the ages of 20 and 50, and there is no clearly understood trigger that causes the disease.”
  • Cystic Fibrosis affects the sinuses among other systems in the body by. According to the  American Rhinologic Society, “[N]early all patients with this disease will have swelling of the mucosa and thickened, non-moving mucus that leads to sinus blockage.” This blockage, in turn, can cause recurring sinus infections, pain and nasal polyps.
  • Kartagener’s syndrome is a rare genetic disease that affects the respiratory system, causing frequent respiratory infections, sinus infections and nasal congestion. Like with the other conditions, the blocked sinus cavities lead to nasal polyps. 
  • Eosinophilic granulomatosis with polyangiitis (formerly called Churg-Strauss syndrome) is an extremely rare condition in which the blood vessels become inflamed and sometimes block blood from getting to vital organs and tissues. People with this disease suffer from asthma, allergies and sinusitis, all of which can lead to the formation of nasal polyps.
  • Paranasal Sinus Cancers do not cause nasal polyps and are very rare. In fact, according to the American Cancer Society, only about 2,000 people in the United States develop these cancers per year and they account for only 1% of malignant tumors discovered throughout the body. The size, shape and level of pain are all distinguishing features between nasal polyps and cancerous tumors.

The good news is that even if you are diagnosed with one of these conditions, it is manageable with the proper medical care. As we said above, it’s most likely that your polyps are nothing but harmless growths caused by sinus issues.

So stop worrying and make an appointment with one of our expert physicians at Connecticut Sinus Center for peace of mind about your nose.  When you come in for your appointment, we’ll sit down with you and discuss your symptoms and medical history. Next, we’ll conduct a series of tests, which may include allergy tests and a nasal endoscopy, that tell us exactly what is causing your growth so that we can come up with an individualized treatment plan that is right for you and your lifestyle.

Call 860-BALLOON today and schedule your appointment. With four conveniently-located offices across the state, getting help is nothing to sneeze at.

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