Allergens


Can I Be Allergic to My Allergy Medicine?

Allergy MedicineWhen allergy season hits, you’re likely to reach for some allergy medicine that will relieve your symptoms. Whether that be a prescription or an over-the-counter remedy, all of these treatments can not only make a serious dent in your budget, but they also come with the risk of side effects, including drug interactions. One of the greatest risks of allergy medicine is the possibility of an allergic reaction as severe as anaphylactic shock.

According the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI):

[I]f you have an allergy to a particular medication, your immune system identifies that drug as an invader or allergen. Your immune system may react to medications in several ways. One type of immune reaction is due to production of antibodies called Immunoglobulin E (IgE) specific to the drug. These antibodies travel to cells that release chemicals, triggering an immediate allergic reaction. This reaction causes symptoms in the nose, lungs, throat, sinuses, ears, lining of the stomach or on the skin and usually occurs within minutes to a few hours of taking the drug.

The most common immune response to a drug is due to the expansion of T cells, a type of white blood cell that recognize the drug as foreign. These T cells orchestrate a delayed immune response that most often affects the skin, causing itchy rashes, and occurs days to weeks after exposure to the drug.

Most allergic reactions occur within hours to two weeks after taking the medication and most people react to medications to which they have been exposed in the past. This process is called “sensitization.” However, rashes may develop up to six weeks after starting certain types of medications.

While an allergic reaction to allergy medicine is rare, Drugs.com states that the following drugs have been know to trigger attacks in some people:

  • Pseudoephedrine (sympathomimetic) used in decongestants
  • Chlorpheniramine (an antihistamine) contains both active and inactive ingredients that can be triggers
  • Prednisone, (steroid) an anti-inflammatory or an immunosuppressant
  • Ibuprofen, a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID)
  • Acetaminophen, analgesic and an antipyretic (used to prevent or relieve fever)

This shouldn’t come as a surprise, though, as any medication can cause a reaction in certain people. So if you don’t want to take the chance and are looking for a safer and more permanent way to put an end to your allergy symptoms, schedule an appointment with CT Sinus Center today. When you come into one of our four conveniently-located offices, our expert staff will sit down with you to discuss your symptoms and medical history and perform a thorough exam in order to determine exactly what is triggering your reaction. Once the results are in, we we’ll develop a treatment plan that is right for you and your lifestyle. You may even be eligible for one of our in-house procedures that will help relieve sinus pressure and pain:

  • 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

Call us today at 860-BALLOON and say goodbye to your symptoms and the mounting allergies bills and risks.

For more information on all things sinus and allergy, 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.


7 Tips Com(piled) for Mold Allergy Season

Mold Allergy SeasonIf you live in New England, fallen leaves are just another fact of life, and so is having to rake them. There are a few people who find raking cathartic, but most find it a bothersome chore. And whether they like it or not, for people with fall allergies, raking leaves can be downright dangerous.

Leave piles are a breeding ground for mold spores, and the spores themselves are extremely airborne, especially during the warm part of the day. Because they are so light, mold spores are easily inhaled. Therefore, just being around mold can trigger an allergic reaction, so you can imagine what raking them and stirring up the pollen can do.

The best way to avoid mold allergy symptoms is simply to stay away from mold — but that is easier said than done. You have to go outside and if you have a yard, you’ll have to rake leaves. And anyway, you don’t want to allow allergies to keep you trapped inside the house on beautiful fall days.

To help you get through leave season as healthy as possible, we have compiled a list of ways to reduce your symptoms as much as possible.

  1. Check the pollen count. Try to do your yardwork on the days that the pollen and mold counts are lower. For up-to-date tree, weed, grass and mold levels in your area, visit the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology.
  2. Clean your gutters. Leaves can accumulate in the gutters, where if left, will further decay and produce mold.

  3. Wear a mask. The American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology suggests a NIOSH rated N95 mask for preventing inhalation of pollen and mold spores while working outside.

  4. Keep windows closed and clean air filters. Since they are so light and airborne, it is easy for the mold spores living in the leaves to come in through your windows, air conditioners and air purifiers.

  5. Shower/bathe after raking leaves. After working in the yard, bathe in order to clean off any pollen and spores that are on your skin. Then put on clean clothes and wash the ones you were wearing. Dry them in the drier or inside so because wet clothes hanging on a line will attract allergens.

  6. Take allergy medication. Over-the-counter and prescription medications come in many forms — antihistamines, decongestants, and nasal sprays — and, while temporary fixes, work well when taken correctly. Allergy shots lead to permanent relief, but the process itself takes many years and numerous injections per month.

  7. Visit CT Sinus Center. If you are looking for a permanent solution to your fall mold allergies, especially if you suffer from seasonal allergies year long, we can help. Through our patient-centered philosophy and up-to-date diagnostic tools, our expert physicians will find the right treatment for your specific symptoms. You may even be a candidate for one of our two outpatient procedures, both of which will end your suffering in around an hour:

  • 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

Call 860-BALLOON to schedule an appointment at one of  CT Sinus Center’s four conveniently-located offices, and let us help you leave your mold allergies behind.

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


Is Honey The Bee’s Knees of Allergy Treatments?

HoneyFor years, people have been raving about the relieving effects that local, raw (unprocessed) honey has on allergies. But does it really work as well as they allege it does? While we would like to say “yes,” especially as incentive to help end the ongoing bee crisis, unfortunately, these claims are unfounded.  

The reasoning behind this myth is similar to the reasoning behind why allergy shots (immunology) work: When the allergens are introduced a little at a time over time, the body builds an immunity to them. So if you consider it in this way:

  1. Bees collect nectar and pollen from flowers that the person is exposed to daily.
  2. The nectar and pollen are converted into honey.
  3. Person ingests the local honey over a period of time.
  4. The exposure to the honey causes immunity.

In theory, this makes sense. Unfortunately according to major medical sources (American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, Mayo Clinic and WebMD, the theory is a little sour. Here’s why:

  1. There is no way of telling how much pollen, if any, is in the honey.
  2. While you can control allergen dosage and its progression with allergy shots, you have no way of knowing how much is actually in the honey.
  3. Bees mostly collect nectar and pollen from the type of flowers that don’t typically cause allergies. Most allergies come from tree and grass pollen, which is actually airborne.

In fact, ingesting raw honey can actually be harmful under the following conditions:

  1. In a child under 12 months old, it can cause infant botulism.
  2. It can cause a mild to severe allergic reaction.

In processed commercial honey, bee parts, mold spores, pollen and bacteria are all removed because they are considered the “junk” parts.

Does this mean that honey just has placebo effects or that you shouldn’t ingest it at all?

Actually, no. Honey, aside from being delicious, has many beneficial properties, for example, anti-inflammatory effects. So if you think honey is working to make you feel better, you’re right. So go ahead and get some of that fresh local honey that they’ll be selling during the upcoming fair season, and for more information on the great qualities of honey, visit “Benefits of Honey.”

The debunking of the myth does mean, however, that you need another solution for your allergies, and at CT Sinus Center, we have a permanent one. Call us today to schedule an appointment with one of our expert physicians to see what we can do for you. When you come in, we’ll take the time to sit down with you and discuss your symptoms before doing thorough diagnostic testing to see exactly what is triggering your allergies. Next, in easy-to-understand language, we’ll explain our findings and treatment options. Finally, we’ll develop an individualized treatment plan that will bring sweet relief from allergies in no time. You may even be a candidate for one of our two outpatient procedures, both of which will end your suffering in around an hour:

  1. Balloon Sinus Dilation, which will reshape your nasal passages, promoting draining and natural healing
  2. 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

Call 860-BALLOON to schedule an appointment at one of our four conveniently-located offices, and let us help you “bee” free from allergies.

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


5 Common Mistakes That Make Allergies Worse


Allergy mistakesDoes it seem that no matter what you do to treat your
allergies, nothing seems to be working? Perhaps instead of helping, you’re actually committing some of the following common treatment mistakes. So before you suffer another day, let’s take a look at some “fixes” you should be avoiding.

  1. Mistake: Treating symptoms, not underlying causes. While you may be able to eliminate some of your symptoms with specific treatments, unless you address what’s causing them, the fix is only temporary. For example, if you are taking a decongestant for a stuffy nose or an antihistamine for a runny one, you may be able to breathe a bit more freely, however the relief will last only as long as the dosage does. Also, if you have chronic allergies, but you’re taking medication for the common cold, you may only get a break from some of your symptoms.

Correct way: See an allergy specialist for a diagnosis and develop an individualized treatment plan.

  1. Mistake: Taking medications too late. As we discussed in “Allergy Myths: The Truth Is Out There,” many people won’t reach for the allergy medications until they feel sick. However, once the allergy is in full-swing, it can be difficult to relieve its symptoms.

Correct way: “Pre-treat” by taking the medicine before you are exposed to the allergen, thereby preventing, or at least lessening, the allergic reaction. Pre-treating often means taking the medication long-term and year-round.

  1. Mistake: Ignoring pollen count. If you ask the average person how the pollen count is measured, he or she may tell you that it is an estimated level based on how much pollen is seen in the air and on surfaces. Actually, pollen count is a real, scientific measurement of how much pollen and mold is saturating the air, and higher levels represent danger for allergy sufferers.

Correct way: Schedule your life around the pollen count.

  1. Mistake: Inviting pollen in. You probably think of dust being inside of your house, and pollen being outside. However, pollen will find its way into your home — and you may be responsible. First, opening windows lets the fresh air in, but it also lets the pollen in. Also, pollen can gather on shoes and clothing, which then can be tracked throughout your house. It can even settle into clothing that is hanging on an outside clothesline, so your freshly washed clothes may not be as clean as you thought.

Correct way: Constantly wash your clothes, dry them inside, and shower to remove the pollen from your skin. Always leave windows closed.

  1. Mistake: Misusing air purifiers or humidifiers. Both of these machines are great for improving the air quality in your home. However if you don’t keep up on the maintenance and clean the filters, you are only be recirculating the pollen and mold that was making you ill in the first place.

Correct way: Make sure you are always using distilled water, and clean your filters regularly.

It is said that doing things over and over in the same way, but expecting different results, is the definition of insanity. So why keep making the same mistakes over and over when treating your allergies? On the other hand, doing things the correct way can be quite time-consuming and inconvenient — and temporary.

The expert physicians at CT Sinus Center can help you break through this frustrating and expensive cycle to find permanent relief. First and foremost, we will take the time to sit down with you and discuss your symptoms and then use the most up-to-date diagnostic tools to find out exactly what’s causing them. Next, we’ll develop a personalized treatment plan designed to get you on the path to symptom-free living in no time. You may be an ideal candidate for Balloon Sinus Dilation, a non-invasive, in-house procedure in which a small balloon is inflated in the nasal cavity, opening passages and relieving your allery symptoms forever.

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

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


Bust Your Dust Mite Allergy

We’ve been talking a lot about winter allergies because they are particularly bad this year due to the inconsistent weather. No matter where you look, people are sneezing, coughing and sniffling.

Most winter allergies are caused by dust and mold that settles indoors now that the windows are closed and there is little ventilation. Dust can be a combination of human skin, pet dander, dirt, insect carcuses and dust mites. About 20 million Americans are allergic to dust mites, and if you happen to be one of those people, you know how miserable you can be when you’re cooped up inside for months.

There are a few things you can do that’ll help alleviate your allergy symptoms, including:

  • Dust every day
  • Vacuum every day
  • Wash sheets once a week or more
  • Wash stuffed animals often
  • Wash curtains monthly
  • Get dust mite-proof covers for your pillows, mattress and boxspring

However, dust builds up quickly, especially if you live in an older house or have pets or children. In an attempt to keep ahead of the dust bunnies, you may find yourself spending a large amount of time cleaning and a large amount of money for cleaning supplies. If that’s not enough, which is most often the case, you may also take prescription or over-the-counter decongestants and/or antihistamines. And, if you’re like most people, your allergies don’t end when winter does — and neither do dust problems. Enter the new season, the new seasonal allergy, and the same bothersome symptoms.

CT Sinus Center wants to help. Call us today to schedule an appointment with one of our expert physicians to see how we can put a permanent end to your allergy suffering. When you come in, we’ll sit down with you and thoroughly discuss your symptoms and do a few tests. We’ll then assess which treatment option is best for you, including whether you’re a candidate for 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.

The mighty dust mite doesn’t stand a chance up against the treatment procedures available at CT Sinus Center. Book your appointment today at (860) BALLOON and find out what makes us the leader in permanent relief.

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


Sneezing in a Winter Wonderland

Don’t let this be the winter of your discontent because you’re suffering from allergies. Even though everything has frozen over, humidity is at an all-time low, and the pollen count is pretty-much non-existent, there are still allergens floating around that can make you miserable.

In fact, many of the things that can trigger allergies in the wintertime are the same as the culprits that attack during the other seasons:

  • Mold: Even when it’s cold outside, there can still be dampness in your house, which in turn can host mold. Bathrooms and basements are typical growth areas, but you may also find mold in places that aren’t properly insulated or in the pile of fireplace wood that you just brought in from outside.
  • Dust mites: With forced-air furnaces and lack of ventilation, not to mention children who spend more time inside than out, the airborne dust can really pile up. The same goes for pet dander.

In addition, the symptoms of winter allergies are the same as in any other season:

  • Runny nose and nasal congestion
  • Watery or itchy eyes  
  • Sneezing
  • Coughing
  • Itchy nose, roof of mouth or throat
  • Sinus pressure and facial pain
  • Circles under the eyes
  • Decreased sense of smell or taste

The difference is that in the winter, not only are you faced with these ailments, but also freezing cold temperatures, a weakened immune system and viruses that spread like wildfire. Suffering through winter allergies can really make you want to crawl into bed and hibernate.

Unfortunately for most of us, hibernation is not an option. Luckily, there are some things you can do to minimize the impact of winter allergens, including cleaning regularly and using a dehumidifier in problem areas. You can also try over-the-counter or prescription medications to alleviate your symptoms. However, if you are looking for a more permanent solution, especially if you suffer year-round, schedule a consultation at CT Sinus Center to see how we can help.

When you come in to CT Sinus Center, one of our expert physicians will sit down with you to thoroughly discuss your symptoms and diagnostic processes. We offer specific skin testing to evaluate for environmental allergies, including fungi. Once we diagnose specifically what is triggering your allergies, we’ll work to develop an individualized and effective treatment plan.

You may be eligible for balloon sinus dilation, a non-invasive, outpatient procedure that opens up the nasal passages, allowing more airflow and drainage, which in turn prevents future sinus issues. When you undergo balloon sinus dilation, in just under an hour, you will be on your way to long-lasting allergy relief. After all, don’t you deserve a break from the discomfort allergies bring during any season?


What to Do When You’re Allergic to Your Pet

pet-dander-1

You’ve adopted a new furry family member and you and the kids couldn’t be more excited. However, the minute you get home, you start to feel as if you were just hit with a terrible head cold with any number of the following symptoms:

  • Runny nose and nasal congestion
  • Watery or itchy eyes
  • Sneezing
  • Coughing
  • Itchy nose, roof of mouth or throat
  • Sinus pressure and facial pain
  • Raised, red patches of skin (hives)
  • Itchy skin

Maybe you figure the cold’s timing is just bad luck, or maybe it’s  seasonal allergies, but after a week, you see little improvement — at least when you’re at home. When you’re out of the house, while you don’t feel 100%, you do feel a little better. And then you begin to think about when you began having your cold-like symptoms, and you realize it was the day you brought Fido home.

Pet allergies are commonly triggered by allergens that are present in the skin cells that dogs and cats shed. The shed flakes, called dander, can remain airborne for quite some time, which means that even when Fido isn’t around, his allergens still may be. Additional allergens can also be found in animals’ saliva, urine, and sweat. If you have a pet, or are around pets, the irritants are hard to ignore. At best, pet allergies can be annoying, at worst, they can have serious complications such as sinus infections or worsened asthma. (Important: If you are having difficulty breathing, whether or not you have asthma, seek medical help immediately.)

Now that you suspect you have a pet allergy, what are you going to do? Your kids have already fallen in love with your four-pawed friend, and the truth is, so have you. So before you panic and rush him to a shelter, take a deep breath and try out some of these home remedies:

  • Give your pet a bath often. Full baths are very effective, but so are pet wipes.
  • Run high-efficiency particulate air purifiers (HEPA) and let in fresh air.
  • Eliminate as many dander-traps as possible, including carpets. If you can’t do that, steam clean your carpet as often as possible. For furniture, you may want to invest in allergen-resistant covers, which are available at medical supply stores.

If those remedies don’t do the trick, it’s time to schedule a consultation with CT Sinus and see what we can do for you. When you come in, our patient-centered physicians will take the time to sit down with you and thoroughly discuss your symptoms, diagnostic methods, and available treatment options. In some cases, you may be eligible for Balloon Sinus Dilation: a non-invasive procedure, available only at CT Sinus Center, that may put an end to your allergies of all kinds.

For more information on how CT Sinus Center can offer you forever relief while you give your new friend a forever home, book your appointment by calling (860) BALLOON.