Allergy Testing


The Dangers of Ticks During Fall

TicksTicks lie somewhere between the two categories of completely harmless bugs and very dangerous bugs. While it’s true that people are more exposed to ticks during the warmer months, it’s possible to be exposed to them as the months get cooler too.  

Most people immediately associate ticks with the horrors of Lyme disease. However, it’s important to note that not every tick is infected with a disease, and that Lyme is not the only possible risk. In fact, the list on the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) page “Tickborne Diseases of the United States” is a bit unnerving.

Luckily, these cases are rare, but you should still be cautious when it comes to these creepy critters. Some ticks are as tiny as a poppy seed and you may not even feel their bite, so always inspect your skin (and your pets) after being outdoors, especially if you’ve been in a wooded area or grassy area.

Let’s take a look at the most common ticks found in the United States:

  1. Deer ticks (blacklegged ticks). Deer ticks are most commonly found in North America. They come from, you guessed it, deer, and are able to transmit many of the diseases listed on the CDC site. They are mainly found in forests and wooded areas, so take extra precautions such as wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants to cover your skin when you’ll possibly be exposed to them.
  2. American Dog tick (wood ticks). These guys are no friend of man’s best friend. Dogs and cats are susceptible to getting this type of tick wherever they go outside, so it’s very important to inspect your fur babies every time they come back in. Unwanted tick guests can cause harm to you and your pet, including illness and tick paralysis. If you do happen to find a tick on Fido, there is a specific, safe way to remove it. Visit PetMD to learn more about the dangers ticks pose for cats and dogs.
  3. Lone Star tick. Have you heard the buzz going around for these suckers? One bite from them can cause you to become allergic to red meat, as well as to possibly contract a disease. When this tick bites, your immune system may be activated if a carbohydrate named “alpha-gal” is transferred into your body. This molecule is found in most mammalian cell membranes except for human cell membranes — its foreignness is what triggers the allergic reaction. So if you are bitten, there will be no more steak for dinner, but at least poultry and seafood (which are non mammalian meat) are still okay.

If you happen to find any type of tick on you or your pet, remove it immediately. It can take up to 24 hours to fully pass on Lyme or any of the other diseases, and if you spot any of these symptoms, contact your doctor immediately to seek proper treatment and testing:

  • Bullseye rash
  • Chills
  • Fever
  • Headaches
  • Neck stiffness
  • Muscle pains
  • Rash
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Trouble breathing

If you notice a tick, or that you are having a reaction after consuming red meat, make an appointment with us at one of our four conveniently-located locations. We have up-to-date diagnostic tools that will figure out what’s causing your your discomfort and expert physicians that will develop an individualized treatment plan for you.  

Call CT Sinus Center at 860-BALLOON and tick off “finding relief” on your to-do list.

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


What is Involved in Allergy Testing?

allergy testingIn our blogs, we always talk about how at CT Sinus Center we have the most up-to-date diagnostic tools for pinpointing the exact cause of your allergies. In today’s blog, we are going to discuss what is involved so that you know what to expect when you come in for your allergy testing appointment.

Let us begin by saying that we don’t jump into the actual testing. First, our staff will sit down with you and thoroughly discuss your medical history and symptoms. Next, before we start any type of test, we will explain to you what we’re going to do because our top priority — next to making you feel better — is making you feel at ease.

Once you are ready, we will begin the actual allergy testing process, which can involve a skin and/or blood test. Here are the different types with descriptions from Mayo Clinic:

Skin Prick Tests

  • May be called puncture or scratch test
  • The test is painless and barely penetrates the skin
  • Done on forearm (adult) and back (child)
  • Process: Site is cleaned with alcohol and marked, and then a drop of allergen extract is applied and pricked into the skin with a tiny needle
  • Histamine and Glycerin or saline are applied to site
  • After 15 minutes, doctor checks site for reaction
  • Can test up to 40 allergens at once, including pollen, mold, pet dander, dust mites and foods

Skin injection test

  • Done on forearm
  • Process: Small needle injects the allergen into skin
  • After 15 minutes, doctor checks site for reaction
  • Usually used to detect allergy to insect venom or penicillin

Patch test

  • Tests for contact dermatitis
  • Done on arm or back
  • Process: Allergen is applied to patch and then patch is placed on skin
  • After 48 hours, doctor checks site for reaction
  • Can test 20 to 30 allergens at once, including latex, medications, fragrances, preservatives, hair dyes, metals and resins

Blood test

According to the College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI), a blood test is usually done if:

  • The patient is taking a medicine that can interfere with skin testing, but cannot be stopped for a few days
  • The patient suffers from a severe skin condition such as eczema or psoriasis
  • Testing with a strong allergen might cause an extra large positive reaction
  • A single needle stick for allergy blood testing may be better than several skin tests, especially for babies and very young children

Now that you know what to expect, schedule an appointment for allergy testing at CT Sinus Center and take the first step in finding permanent relief. Our patient-care administered by expert physicians will have you feeling at ease from the moment you walk through the door and feeling relief shortly thereafter.

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

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


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.


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.


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.


The Comings and Goings of Allergies

AllergiesAllergies are one of the great wonders of the world, as in: We wonder where they come from, when they are going to develop and if we are going to grow out of them. One thing we do know is what an allergy is. The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI) explains:

If you have an allergy, your immune system mistakes an otherwise harmless substance as an invader. This substance is called an allergen. The immune system overreacts to the allergen by producing Immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies. These antibodies travel to cells that release histamine and other chemicals, causing an allergic reaction.

The actual way people react to these allergens can vary depending on the person. In fact, the allergies can vary within the person. For example, the intensity and presentation of your allergies can be different from season to season, although it’s difficult to tell if this is due to environmental or biological factors. In addition, you may react differently from allergens. For example, you may react to one type of pollen, but not another, or even one dog and not another.

Again, why this happens no one knows. To add to the mystery, in the article “Outgrowing Allergies” on the Everyday Health website, Clifford W. Bassett, MD, a clinical instructor in the division of infectious diseases and immunology at the New York University School of Medicine tells us: “In general, as kids get older they can grow out of allergies. But there’s a whole world where, for millions of people, that’s not the case. Some people even grow into allergies.”

Research has shown that most children will not grow out of seasonal allergies, however, food allergies are a different story. “Outgrowing Allergies” explains:

Until recently, most allergists thought that children with milk allergies would outgrow them by age 3 or 4. But a recent study by doctors at Johns Hopkins University showed that the majority of kids won’t outgrow milk allergies until much later, possibly as late as age 16.

Allergies to soy, eggs, and wheat will often be outgrown by the time the child is a teenager. However, if children are allergic to peanuts or tree nuts such as walnuts, pecans, and almonds, there is a good chance — about 80 percent for peanuts and 90 percent for tree nuts — that they will remain allergic as adults.

Some research has suggested that this coming and going of allergies occurs because every seven years, the cells in your body replace themselves, basically giving you a brand new system that reacts differently to allergens. However, this is only partly true. Your cells do die and replace themselves, but each type of cell has its own lifespan and with trillions of cells in your body doing their own thing, there is no set schedule.

So if you find yourself suddenly suffering from allergies or are waiting for that seven-year mark when they disappear forever, it’s time to be proactive. Whether it’s food, pets, or nature causing your symptoms, the expert staff at CT Sinus Center can help end them forever.

Call 860-BALLOON today and schedule your appointment at one of our four conveniently-located offices for allergy testing and an individualized treatment plan that will make you wonder why you haven’t visited our office sooner..

For more information on 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.


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.


How to Handle Hives

HivesSometimes allergic reactions manifest as red, itchy or stinging bumps on top of the skin. The American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (ACAAI) states that 20 percent of people will experience these hives, or urticaria, at least once in their lives. The condition is easy to spot, but the ACAAI lists some things about hives that you should be aware of:

  • An actual hive usually lasts under 24 hours, but the reaction can last for weeks. This is because as the bumps fade, new ones can take their place.
  • Hives can appear on the skin anywhere.
  • During a reaction, it’s possible that not all hives will be the same shape or in the same area.
  • If you apply pressure to the bumps, they will turn from red to white (blanching).
  • The overall reaction is usually acute (lasting under 6 weeks), however may be chronic (lasting over 6 weeks).

Hives can be caused by a number of different things:  

  • Some food (especially peanuts, eggs, nuts and shellfish)
  • Pet dander
  • Pollen
  • Some plants, such as poison oak and poison ivy
  • Medications, such as antibiotics (especially penicillin and sulfa), aspirin and ibuprofen
  • Insect stings or bites
  • Physical stimuli, such as pressure, cold, heat, exercise or sun exposure
  • Latex
  • Blood transfusions
  • Bacterial infections, including urinary tract infections and strep throat
  • Viral infections, including the common cold, infectious mononucleosis and hepatitis

Fortunately, most cases of hives, while uncomfortable, pose no real health threat. However, chronic hives can be a sign of an immune disorder and can lead to health problems down the road. So if you are experiencing this reaction, you should get checked out. Also, people often incorrectly self-diagnose their condition as hives when it is really angioedema, a swelling under the skin. The symptoms of angioedema are a little different and include:

  • Swelling in the eyes or mouth
  • Swelling of the hands, feet or throat
  • Difficulty breathing, stomach cramps or chemosis (swelling of the lining of the eyes)

With either hives or angioedema, severe reactions need immediate medical attention.

And as we said above, even if you have mild symptoms, you should see an allergist to determine exactly what is causing your reaction — because why suffer if you don’t have to.

With state-of-the art diagnostic practices and tools, such as those used in food allergy testing, the expert physicians at CT Sinus Center will be able to pinpoint your triggers and devise an individual treatment plan. Whether that plan includes medications or avoidance practices, we will make sure that it keeps you safe and comfortable

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

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