The Downside of Decongestants



Stuffy nose? Pressure in your ears, nose or face? If you are experiencing any of these symptoms of allergies or sinusitis, you’ll probably reach for an over-the-counter decongestant. There are three types of decongestants: oxymetazoline, phenylephrine and pseudoephedrine, and they are available in the form of pills, liquid, nose sprays or nose drops. For a more in-depth look at each one, visit our blog on over-the-counter allergy medicines.

Decongestants will help to reduce swelling in your nasal passages, making it easier to breathe; but if you are suffering from allergies or sinusitis, decongestants are not the solution to your problems. So before you run to your medicine cabinet, let’s take a look at some of the downsides of decongestants:

They’re expensive. According to WebMD, “one estimate of the annual cost of allergies to the health care system and businesses in the U.S. [is] $7.9 billion.” How much do you and your family contribute to this total, especially if you have multi-season allergies? Think about all the other things you could do with this money.

They’re not a cure. Decongestants may lessen your symptoms, but they do not actually cure allergies or sinusitis. So when the medicine wears off, you’ll take more, and when that dose wears off, you’ll take even more. It’s a vicious cycle. After all that, if you forget to take a dose altogether, the medicine will be less effective. How great would it be if you could find a one-time, permanent solution?

They can be hazardous to your health. Decongestants can present a host of side effects:

Pills and liquid can cause dizziness, anxiety, nausea, and headaches, increased blood pressure, and irregular hearts. For people with heart issues or hypertension, taking a decongestant can lead to serious problems. This type of medication can also be extremely harmful to people with a thyroid disorder, enlarged prostate or diabetes. As many of these diseases go undiagnosed, you may be taking a serious chance when you take that decongestant.

Nasal sprays and drops may be the source of nosebleeds and throat irritation. With nasal spray decongestants, your body becomes used to the medicine and less responsive to its benefits. Consequently, you begin to need more and more for it to work, and if you stop, your congestion might get worse. This is called the rebound effect, and while people tend to call it “nasal spray addiction,” it is not a physical addiction. This is not to say that people don’t get psychologically addicted to nasal sprays, which then causes overuse, which in turn can damage nasal tissue, leading to other medical problems. For this reason doctors advise that you only use nasal sprays for between 3 and 5 days at a time. So what do you do for your congestion after that

With all these side effects, is taking decongestants for your allergies or sinusitis worth the risk?

At CT Sinus Center, we offer a one-time, affordable solution called balloon sinus dilation that will give you a break from the decongestant cycle. This simple, non-invasive procedure may put an end to your sinus issues forever — and with no side effects. Schedule an appointment with one of our expert physicians to see if you are eligible for the procedure.

For more information on how CT Sinus Center will get you moving toward relief rather than running around in circles, book your appointment by calling (860) BALLOON.


Allergy-free Food to Give Thanks For


It was just a few weeks ago that we talked about how Halloween candy can be frightful for those of us with food allergies, and we offered suggestions on how to keep your kids with allergies safe. Now, with Thanksgiving around the corner, we have some more tips on allergy-free eating that you can be thankful for.

When you sit down to a traditional Thanksgiving dinner, you’ll be surrounded by a host of culinary delights: turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, fresh bread, green bean casserole with almonds, shrimp cocktail and so much more. For most people, the only danger of eating these dishes is the inevitable “food coma.” However, if you or someone you love suffers from food allergies, the consequences could be much more serious. 

Unfortunately, the top culprits of food allergies — milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, soy and wheat — are present in most of the foods we listed in our spread above. However, there’s no reason to forgo the holiday and all its wonderful foods. Here are some tips for a Thanksgiving menu that will make you forget you have any dietary restrictions at all.

  • Read all labels carefully. It’s not always obvious that a food contains allergens. For example, did you know that turkey broth contains wheat, and some store-bought turkeys are basted with a gluten solution? Make sure you know what you are getting.
  • Know what you can and cannot eat. Thanksgiving dinner is not the time to try that lobster appetizer if you think you may be allergic to shellfish or that peanut butter cookie if some nuts give you hives.
  • Search for allergy-free recipes on the Internet. You can find delicious recipes for any dietary restriction, including gluten free, soy free and dairy free. The problem with doing this search, though, is that you’ll come up with so many amazing things to make, you won’t know which ones to choose!
  • Use substitutes. Nowadays there are many allergen-free alternatives on the market that you can substitute without most even knowing. Earth Balance makes a soy free, lactose-free, gluten-free vegan spread that you’ll never believe isn’t butter. Silk makes wonderful milk alternatives using soy, coconut, cashews, or almonds. If you’re baking, applesauce and mashed bananas are great egg substitutes. For a great resource on even more substitution suggestions, click here.

Keeping these tips in mind, if you watch for ingredients and are careful about what you eat, you’ll have a Thanksgiving meal to remember — and not because it sent you to the emergency room.

The physicians and staff of  CT Sinus Center say thank you for choosing us to play a part in your health and happiness. We wish you a wonderful holiday season!

(For more information on all things  allergies, visit the our website.)