Allergy Treatment


What’s Causing Your Spring Allergies?

19727500 - adorable little girl laughing in a meadow - happy girlSpring allergies: We all know that they exist and what their symptoms are, but do we all know exactly what causes them? In previous blogs, we’ve talked about pollen, mold and dust, whereas in this blog, we are going to get more specific about which types of pollen could be causing your discomfort. Because when it comes to allergy triggers, it’s not always true that “a rose is a rose is a rose.”

In general, the three types of pollen are tree, grass and weed — all of which are difficult to escape because these natural elements are everywhere. What’s worse is that pollen can travel for long distances, so even if there aren’t any of these specific plants near you, you can still be affected.

WebMD presents the following lists of spring allergy triggers:

Trees:

Alder Ash
Aspen Beech
Box elder Cedar
Cottonwood Cypress
Elm Hickory
Juniper Maple
Mulberry Oak
Olive Palm
Pine Poplar
Sycamore Willow

Grasses and weeds:

Bermuda
Fescue
Johnson
June
Orchard
Perennial rye
Redtop
Saltgrass
Sweet vernal
Timothy

How to combat Spring AllergiesIn our blog: “Don’t Let Allergies Keep You Prisoner in Your Own Home,” we share the following tips from the ACAAI on dealing with your seasonal allergy symptoms:

  • Monitor pollen and mold counts.
  • Keep windows and doors shut at home and in your car.
  • Stay inside midday and during the afternoon, when pollen counts are highest.
  • Take a shower, wash your hair and change your clothes after you’ve been working or playing outdoors.
  • Wear a NIOSH-rated 95 filter mask when mowing the lawn or doing other chores outdoors.

Of course you can also stock up on allergy medications and spring clean every weekend. Or, you can make an appointment with one of our expert physicians at CT Sinus Center and put a permanent end to your allergy suffering. When you come in, we’ll sit down and discuss your symptoms before we start a series of diagnostic procedures to figure out exactly what is triggering your allergies. Once we get answers, we’ll develop a treatment plan that is right for your specific 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:

  • 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

Stop letting nature get in the way of your enjoyment of well, nature. Call us today at 860-BALLOON, and get that spring back in your step. 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.


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.


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.


What is Sublingual Immunotherapy (SLIT)?

Sublingual ImmunotherapyPreviously we took a look at whether allergy shots are right for you, and this week we are discussing another form of immunotherapy: sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT). Immunotherapy itself, defined by Mayo Clinic, is a “carefully timed and gradually increased exposure to allergens, particularly those that are difficult to avoid, such as pollens, dust mites and molds.”

What is SLIT?

In sublingual immunotherapy, allergy tablets are placed under the patient’s tongue to dissolve. Unlike allergy medications (antihistamines, decongestants and corticosteroids), these tablets are made from allergens and are designed to increase tolerance rather than relieve symptoms. The treatment is administered up to to three times a week (often daily) and may be continue for over three years. As the therapy progresses, the patient becomes more and more resistant to the allergen, eventually becoming immune to it altogether.

According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, currently sublingual immunotherapy has only been approved to treat grass and ragweed pollen allergies, so it is essential that you are tested to see exactly what you’re allergic to before taking this route. That said, studies indicate that SILT is safe and effective for other allergens, but it has not yet been approved to treat them.

The pros and cons of SLIT (per ACAAI):

Pros:

  • Permanent relief for a grass or ragweed allergies
  • Risk is usually mild, presenting as itchy mouth or stomach problems, early in treatment
  • Administered at home

Cons of SLIT (per ACAAI):

  • Currently only treats grass or ragweed allergies
  • Anaphylaxis is rare, but may occur
  • Not administered under direct medical supervision

When considering sublingual immunotherapy, you’ll want to take some of the same factors into account as you did with allergy shots:

  • Cost, monetary and time-wise
  • Commitment to long-term medication
  • Severity and length of symptoms
  • Effectiveness of over-the-counter or prescription medication

Is there another path to permanent relief?

At CT Sinus Center, we have perfected two innovative procedures that can put an end to your allergy suffering of all kinds, including pollen, dust mites, pet dander and mold. When you come in for a consultation with our expert physicians, we will take the time to discuss all of your symptoms and what treatments you’ve tried so far. Next, we’ll perform thorough diagnostic testing to figure out what you’re allergic to. After that, we will clearly and comprehensively explain our diagnosis and your treatment options. You may be eligible for Balloon Sinus Dilation, which will reshape your nasal passages, effectively eliminating the chances of continued problems. Or perhaps 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, is your best bet. Whichever procedure is right for you, it will end your allergy suffering in one shot.

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

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