Allergic Reaction


Medical Allergies: Latex and Penicillin

LatexGoing to the doctor is supposed to make you feel better, but what happens when a trip to the office triggers an allergic reaction? Unfortunately, there are a number of medical supplies that  can do just that. In today’s blog, we are going to take a more in-depth look at two of those triggers: latex and penicillin.

Latex:

Natural latex is made from the sap of the rubber tree, Hevea brasiliensis. When a person has an allergic reaction to latex, it is because of the proteins in the sap. Since this allergy has become so common, natural rubber latex is often replaced with synthetic rubber, especially in gloves. However, the synthetic latex is made up of chemicals, which can trigger a whole other set of allergies.

According to The American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI): People who are at higher risk for developing a latex allergy include:

  • Health care workers and others who frequently wear latex gloves
  • People who have had multiple surgeries (for example, 10 or more), such as children with spina bifida
  • People who are often exposed to natural rubber latex, including rubber industry workers
  • People with other allergies, such as hay fever (allergic rhinitis) or allergy to certain foods

Symptoms include:

For more information and a helpful Latex Allergy Checklist, visit the American Latex Allergy Association site.

Penicillin:

The good news about this allergy is many people who think they have it actually don’t. Instead, they may be experiencing adverse reactions or side effects to the drug, which can be just as serious.

The symptoms of a penicillin allergy are just like those of a latex allergy with the addition of:

  • Fever
  • Itchy Eyes
  • Swelling of the lips,  tongue or face

Unfortunately, people with a penicillin allergy may unknowingly be allergic to other drugs as well. Mayo Clinic explains:

Penicillins belong to a class of antibacterial drugs called beta-lactams. Although the mechanisms of the drugs vary, generally they fight infections by attacking the walls of bacterial cells. In addition to penicillins, other beta-lactams more commonly associated with allergic reactions are a group called cephalosporins.

Penicillins include:

  • Amoxicillin
  • Ampicillin
  • Dicloxacillin
  • Oxacillin
  • Penicillin G
  • Penicillin V
  • Piperacillin
  • Ticarcillin

Cephalosporins include:

  • Cefaclor
  • Cefadroxil
  • Cefazolin
  • Cefdinir
  • Cefotetan
  • Cefprozil
  • Cefuroxime
  • Cephalexin

If you believe that you may be suffering from a latex or penicillin allergy, stop the guesswork and find out for sure. Our expert allergists at CT Sinus Center have the most up-to-date testing methods to determine whether or not you do have an allergy and exactly what it is. Once the diagnosis is in, we will work with you to develop a plan to keep you safe from any follow-up reactions.

Call 860-BALLOON to schedule an appointment at one of CT Sinus Center’s four conveniently-located offices today and be assured that a trip to the doctor will only end in health. Also watch for our blog “Medical Allergies Part 2: Other Medications and Adhesives.”

For more information on sinus– and allergy-related conditions or treatments, read more about CT Sinus Center and take a look at our blog.


7 More Strange and Unusual Allergies

unusual Pollen, dust, mold, pet dander and food. These are the things we usually talk about when discussing allergies. But our immune systems are complicated, and we never really know what might cause it to attack. Even the most unexpected and unusual things can be responsible for causing an allergic reaction. 

In “5 Unusual Things That Can Trigger Your Allergies” on our sister site Westwood Ear, Nose & Throat, we discussed the following strange allergy triggers:

  • Leather shoes
  • Water
  • Exercise
  • Nickel
  • Temperature

For this blog, we are going to look at seven more unusual things that can trigger allergy symptoms when you least expect it.

1. Soil. We know all about pollen allergies, but sometimes the soil is the root of the problem. Mold, mildew and fungus can all cause an allergic reaction, so if you find it growing on or around your plants, you’ll want to take care of it as soon as possible. For tips on how to identify and control it, visit the Farmer’s Almanac section on White Mold.

2. Raw produce. As a child, you may have tried to tell your parents that you were allergic to vegetables, and the truth is: You may be. The American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (ACAAI) explains:

Oral allergy syndrome, also known as pollen-food syndrome, is caused by cross-reacting allergens found in both pollen and raw fruits, vegetables or some tree nuts. The immune system recognizes the pollen and similar proteins in the food and directs an allergic response to it.

The common triggers for this unusual allergen are:

  • Birch pollen: apple, almond, carrot, celery, cherry, hazelnut, kiwi, peach, pear, plum
  • Grass pollen: celery, melons, oranges, peaches, tomato
  • Ragweed pollen: banana, cucumber, melons, sunflower seeds, zucchini

That said, the ACAAI also explains that the onset occurs out of the blue after the person has eaten these foods without problem. In addition, cooking the food distorts the proteins, and usually doesn’t cause any problems at all. So will that be one serving or two?

3. Lanolin. This is a wax-like substance that is derived from sheep. You can find it in many beauty products, pharmaceutical preparations and industrial uses. In a few other blogs, we discussed how beauty products can trigger allergy symptoms, so this should come as no surprise. However, lanolin is also present in wool clothing and blankets as well, so it is possible for them to cause reactions, which is something to definitely be aware of.

4. Antiquing. Flea markets and antique shops are full of beauty, culture and history. They are also full of mold, dust and even pet dander that accumulates as the item sits on the sales floor (and wherever they were prior to that). Make sure that after you buy that perfect, unique piece you give it a thorough cleaning before you bring it in the house.

5. Chamomile tea. For centuries, people have used this herbal tea to soothe the stomach and the nerves. However, for some, especially those with a ragweed allergy, this natural remedy can trigger an unnatural reaction. The symptoms of the unusual chamomile allergy are similar to those of seasonal allergies, and if severe enough, can result in anaphylactic shock.

6. Red meat. Vegetarians may rejoice at this fact, but for us carnivores, this is not great news. It is possible to have an allergic reaction to any type of meat, and the reactions are not unlike those of other food allergies:

  • Hives or skin rash
  • Nausea, stomach cramps, indigestion, vomiting, diarrhea
  • Stuffy/runny nose
  • Sneezing
  • Headaches
  • Asthma
  • Anaphylaxis

In recent years, scientists have discovered that being bitten by the Lone Star tick can cause a person to develop red meat allergies. The ACAAI explains that it is related to a carbohydrate called alpha-gal and can take several hours to present. This is just one more reason to check for ticks after you and/or your furry family members spend time outside.

7. Touch. Dermatographia, otherwise known as skin writing, is an allergic reaction that occurs when the skin is lightly scratched or rubbed. According to Mayo Clinic, the symptoms appear about 30 minutes after the contact and disappear just as quickly. They include:

  • Raised red lines
  • Swelling
  • Inflammation
  • Hive-like welts
  • Itching

If you think you are suffering from allergies, either any of these unusual ones or the more common types, contact CT Sinus Center at 860-BALLOON and schedule an appointment with one of our expert physicians. With our four conveniently-located locations, relief is right in your backyard.

To learn more about CT Sinus Center, allergies and sinusitis, visit our website and blogs.


Tongue Swelling: Allergies or Illness

tongueThe tongue is typically about 10 centimeters long when measured from the back of the throat to the very tip. Most people know that it is a muscular organ responsible for chewing, swallowing, licking, tasting, breathing and articulating words. However, did you know that the color and swelling of the tongue can indicate a medical problem?

Angioedema (swelling in the deeper layers of skin and tissue) of the tongue can occur for a number of reasons:

If you suspect that the swelling is caused by allergies, our expert staff at CT Sinus Center can help you find relief. At your first appointment, we’ll talk to you about your symptoms and medical history. Next, through our patient-centered philosophy and up-to-date diagnostic tools, we will figure out if your reaction is caused by food allergies, insect stings, medication or something else entirely. Then, once we establish the cause, we’ll develop a treatment plan that is the perfect fit for your lifestyle.

So watch your mouth — especially your tongue — and if you notice swelling, call 860-BALLOON to schedule an appointment at one of CT Sinus Center’s four conveniently-located offices. (If it is an emergency, such as anaphylactic shock or trouble breathing, call 911 immediately.)

Read more blogs on sinus– and allergy-related conditions on the CT Sinus Center website.


The Different Type of Tissues

tissuesWhen allergies hit, tissues are essential, and in the heat of the moment, you usually reach for whatever is closest to you. However, if you’ve ever shopped for tissues (and most of us have), you may have been overwhelmed by how many kinds are available. Of course, having options is great, but which type is the best?

Like most things, it depends on what you’re looking for.

Tissues are identified by their strength, which is measured by how many layers it has. So tissue that is 1-, 2- or 3-ply has 1, 2 or 3 layers, respectively. As you would imagine, the more layers, the stronger, and more absorbent, the piece is. And if you’ve ever used a tissue, which we’re sure you have, then you know that you don’t want one that falls apart in your hands.

Some types of tissues have the following natural additives to help sooth your irritated nose:

  • Lotion: moisturizes the skin around your nose
  • Aloe vera: has antibacterial properties to help fight infection in your chaffed skin
  • Vitamin E: is an antioxidant that helps protect and heal skin
  • Menthol: cools and helps clear your nasal passages

Unfortunately, some types of tissues also contain surfactants and chemicals, such as sodium lauryl sulfate, chlorine, and isopropyl palmitate, that are used in the softening and bleaching processes. (If you’re interested in how tissues are made, watch this Science Channel segment “How It’s Made Tissues.”)  For some people, these elements can trigger contact dermatitis, and some brands use these more than others, so you should always check the ingredients on the tissue box.

However, if you are ready to leave the tissues behind, or at least those you use for allergy attacks, schedule an appointment with CT Sinus Center to see how we can help. When you first come in, our expert team will talk to you about when and where you mostly experience allergy symptoms. Next, through our patient-centered philosophy and up-to-date diagnostic tools, we will pinpoint what is causing your nasal issues and develop the right treatment for your lifestyle. You may even be a candidate for one of our two outpatient procedures, both of which will end your discomfort 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 cross facial tissues off your shopping list this allergy season.

For more information on sinus– and allergy-related conditions or treatments, read more about CT Sinus Center and take a look at our blog.


Everything Under the Sun About Sunscreen Allergies

SunscreenThe days when no one thought twice about spending hours in the sun without skin protection — and maybe even applied baby oil for that deep-golden tan — are well over. Today, we are all aware of the correlations between sun exposure and skin damage (including cancer) and the benefits of applying sunscreen everyday. Unfortunately, we probably don’t apply it as often as we should, so if you’d like a reminder of why it’s important, visit the “Sunscreen Facts” page on the Melanoma Research Foundation.

For some people, however, sunscreen can cause an allergic reaction, doing more harm than good. “Are You Allergic to Sunscreen,” an article on Everyday Health explains:

Sunscreens work because they contain chemicals that absorb harmful ultraviolet radiation and keep them from penetrating your skin. Some of these chemicals, including oxybenzone, 4-isopropyl-dibenzoylmethane, PABA (para-aminobenzoic acid), esters, avobenzone, and cinnamates, have been known to cause an allergic reaction in certain people.

There are two ways that a sunscreen allergy can present: contact allergy and contact photoallergy.

  1. A contact allergy, also known as contact dermatitis, occurs when your immune system reacts to something in the sunscreen, which can be any of the chemicals listed above, but also a fragrance or preservative. The reaction will affect an area where the sunscreen was applied, and may ever reach beyond.
  2. A contact photoallergy is a negative interaction between the sun and a chemical(s) in the sunscreen that triggers your immune system to attack. This type is pretty rare and will usually only appear on skin that has been exposed to the sun. It is also different from solar urticaria, which is a direction to the sun and doesn’t require additional chemicals.

Both reactions can cause itching, redness, swelling, hives or blisters, and there is no telling if the symptoms will occur immediately or a few days later. And like the allergies we talked about in last week’s blog, “The Comings and Goings of Allergies,” even if you have never had a problem with sunscreen, you can become allergic at any time.

What to do if you think you are allergic to your sunscreen:

  1. Stay out of the sun as much as possible.
  2. Wear protective clothing, including hats and sunglasses.
  3. Find a physical sunscreen, which is comprised of zinc oxide or titanium dioxide and won’t penetrate your skin.
  4. Find a sunscreen that does not contain the element you are allergic to.
  5. Make an appointment with our expert team at CT Sinus Center for allergy testing in order to find out exactly what is causing your reaction.

When you come into one of our four conveniently-located offices, we will sit down with you to discuss your symptoms and medical history and perform a thorough exam in order to not only confirm that you do have a sunscreen allergy, but also to pinpoint what triggers it (making #4 much less of a trial-and-error process). Once the results are in, we’ll develop a treatment plan that is right for you and your lifestyle.

Don’t spend the summer in the shade, call 860-Balloon today and get back to enjoying fun in the sun with the confidence that your skin (and health) is protected.

For more information on all things allergies and sinusitis, visit the CT Sinus website and blog.


Nickel Allergy: A Reaction to Metal

Nickel allergyNickel is a prevalent material in the things that surround us. In fact, you can find it in almost everything including the kitchen sink, which can be a big deal if you suffer from a nickel allergy. According to LiveScience, “Nickel is a hard, silvery-white metal whose strength, ductility and resistance to heat and corrosion make it extremely useful for the development of a wide variety of materials.” Mayo Clinic’s extensive list of materials that contain nickel shows just how widespread its use is. Some of the things on this list may surprise you:

  • Jewelry for body piercings
  • Other jewelry, including rings, bracelets, necklaces and jewelry clasps
  • Watchbands
  • Clothing fasteners, such as zippers, snaps and bra hooks
  • Belt buckles
  • Eyeglass frames
  • Coins
  • Metal tools
  • Cellphones
  • Keys
  • Military “dog-tag” IDs
  • Chalk
  • Medical devices
  • Laptops or computer tablets
  • E-cigarettes

Some foods also contain small amounts of nickel that can cause a reaction. These include soy and certain fruit, vegetable, legumes and grains. For a more comprehensive list of foods that contain nickel, visit the Healthline website.

Fortunately, it’s rare to find something that is made purely of nickel, and items are usually a combination of nickel and other materials. LiveScience further explains, “Nickel is commonly used as a protective outer coating for softer metals.” This is called nickel-plating. Unfortunately, even a little bit of nickel can cause an allergic reaction, and some people are more at risk for developing the allergy than others.

A nickel allergy usually presents as contact dermatitis, the signs of which Mayo Clinic lists as:

  • Rash or bumps on the skin
  • Itching, which may be severe
  • Redness or changes in skin color
  • Dry patches of skin that may resemble a burn
  • Blisters and draining fluid in severe cases
  • Infection (increased redness, warmth, pus, pain)

If you are having recurring reactions to nickel or are not sure where your symptoms are coming from, you should see a doctor. After discussing the circumstances surrounding your reaction and performing patch testing, your doctor will likely prescribe a corticosteroid, nonsteroidal cream or a antihistamine. In severe cases, phototherapy, an exposure treatment, may be used.

Stop letting your nickel allergy meddle with your life. Contact CT Sinus Center today and let our expert physicians pinpoint the exact cause of your symptoms and create a treatment plan that is right for your individual lifestyle.

Call 860-BALLOON to schedule your appointment at one of our four conveniently-located offices today. You’ll leave feeling as good as gold.

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


7 Ways to Have a Safe and Festive Fourth of July

Fourth of JulyWith the Fourth of July approaching, many people are preparing for barbeques, fireworks and all the patriotic fun the holiday brings. However, if you are an allergy sufferer, some of these activities may throw up red flags. So in order to help ensure that you and your loved ones have a safe celebration, we compiled a list of things to watch out for.

  1. Pollen counts: Of course you can’t control nature, but if you are aware of the daily pollen counts, you can at least prepare yourself. Allergy medications work best when you take them before you are exposed to the allergens, so make sure to take the correct dose before heading out to the festivities and continue to take as directed.
  2. Grass: There’s a good chance that wherever you’re celebrating, there will be grass — whether watching fireworks or hanging out at a park or a backyard BBQ. During this time of the year, grass pollens are pretty hard to avoid, especially since the holiday is so close to June, the time in which grass pollen count skyrockets. Grass can also be a breeding ground for mold, which can trigger allergic symptoms as well. If you are sensitive to these elements, take you allergy medication and find alternatives to sitting in the grass.
  3. Insects: Another hidden danger in grass involves insects. The saying “they won’t bother you if don’t bother them” may often be true, but insect behavior tends to be unpredictable. Be sure to pack your bug spray  and follow these tips from the  the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology to ward off any unprovoked attacks. And if you or someone does have a known allergy to insect bites/stings, make sure you’ve also packed the EpiPen.
  4. Balloons: Who doesn’t love balloons? Someone with a latex allergy. Many party planners don’t take latex allergies into account when they are buying decorations, and it’s not unusual for guests, especially children, to reach out and grab balloons. So if you are buying balloons for your Fourth of July celebration, buy the latex-free ones.
  5. Smoke: Where there are fireworks, there is usually also smoke. The same can be said for campfires and even the grill. Usually the smoke itself is an irritant, rather than an allergen, but that doesn’t mean it can’t cause serious health issues. People who suffer from asthma or COPD are particularly susceptible to the dangers of smoke and should stay out of smoke’s way. And, of course, everyone should remain conscious of fire and firework safety at all times.
  6. Food allergies: In the last couple of years, the world has become much more sensitive about food allergies, and just because it’s a holiday, it doesn’t mean you should take a break from being conscientious about them. For some delicious, allergy-friendly Fourth of July recipes, visit My Allergy Kingdom.
  7. PTSD: Not everybody loves fireworks, in fact for some Veterans, they can be downright terrifying. The loud explosions and flashes of light in a firework display can trigger frightening flashbacks for our Veterans, and nobody wants that to happen. To learn more about how you can help your Veterans cope during Fourth of July celebrations, visit here. After all, we have them to thank for our continued independence.

With a little planning ahead, everyone can have a blast on the Fourth of July. At CT Sinus Center, we would like to wish you and your family a happy and healthy holiday!

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


Recognizing Anaphylactic Shock

Anaphylactic Shock

Anaphylactic shock is a life-threatening allergic reaction that begins with our immune system. It occurs when our bodies release an antibody called Immunoglobulin E in an attempt to fight it off what it recognizes as a potentially dangerous allergen. This antibody triggers specific reactions in the body that translate to the common symptoms of anaphylactic symptoms. Mayo Clinic lists the symptoms as:

  • Wheezing or difficulty breathing or wheezing (due to a swollen tongue or throat)
  • Facial swelling
  • Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea
  • Dizziness or fainting
  • Weak and rapid pulse
  • Sensation of a lump in your throat
  • Shock

What causes anaphylactic shock?

Knowing what can trigger anaphylaxis is extremely important for you and everyone around you. These include:

  • Dairy (milk, cheese, eggs, etc.)
  • Nuts (including tree nuts)
  • Shellfish (lobster, crab, shrimp, etc.)
  • Seeds (sesame, etc.)
  • Stings (bee, wasp, etc.)
  • Medications (penicillin, etc.)

It is also important to mention that, according to Webmd, “exercise can trigger anaphylaxis if the activity occurs after eating allergy-provoking food” and “pollens and other inhaled allergens (allergy-causing substances) rarely cause anaphylaxis.”

How Do I Treat It?

If you or someone you know is experiencing anaphylactic shock, seek medical help immediately. Anyone who knows they have a serious allergy, should always carry epinephrine, usually in the form of an EpiPen. Epinephrine is adrenaline that, when injected through the outer thigh and into the muscle, can reverse anaphylaxis and keep the heart beating. Once the medication is administered, immediate medical care is still necessary.

Doctors are best informed on how to treat such maladies, and if you have had a reaction, even a milder one, it is important to discuss it with them. After that, it’s best to just avoid your allergens altogether if possible.

Because it is possible to develop a life-threatening allergy at any time in your life, it is imperative to understand what to do in a case of anaphylactic shock. Remember, though, that an allergy isn’t the end of the world as long as you educate yourself on the symptoms and take the correct precautionary steps in order keep safe.

For more information on all things sinus and allergy, visit the CT Sinus Center website and take a look at our blog.