Tips for Treating Allergies When Traveling

TravelingThe holidays are right around the corner and for you and your family, this may mean hitting the road. Traveling can be stressful enough without having to worry about an allergy attack, especially because you never know when a trigger will strike. Fortunately, if you are traveling with allergies, there are precautions you can take to be prepared if something does hit. In this blog, we’ll look at six of them.

  1. Bring a first-aid kid. It’s always smart to bring a first-aid kid when you travel. Fill yours with remedies for common ailments such as cuts, stomach aches, minor aches and pains, allergies and colds. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention provides this comprehensive list of items to include in your travel health kit.
  2. Pack all necessary medications. Make sure you won’t run out while you are away. You can check the pollen counts for your destination (and everywhere along the way), and if you see that your triggers pose a threat, ask your doctor to prescribe a higher dosage of your medication or suggest an additional treatment for the short period you’ll be away.
  3. Prepare an allergy-free menu. Not only will this ensure that food allergy triggers will be avoided, it will also save you money that could otherwise be spent on restaurants and novelty snacks. The Food Allergy Research and Education site offers extensive tips on traveling with food allergies.
  4. Know airline regulations. If you are flying, check the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) regulations on traveling with medication to ensure you are following their rules. The last thing you want is to have to leave important medications at the security checkpoint.
  5. Book an asthma- and allergy-friendly hotel. There are some hotels that offer this type of accommodations, which include no pet policies and hypoallergenic linens. WebMD also recommends that you ask for a sunny room away from the pool if mold allergies are a concern. You can also bring your own dust-proof, zippered pillow covers whether you are staying at a hotel or with friends/family.
  6. Have an in-case-of-emergency plan. Make sure that everyone on the trip is aware of the allergy issue and knows how to react accordingly, whether that be with an antihistamine, an EpiPen, and/or a call to 911. You should also research cell phone reception where you are going and know where to find the closest emergency center just in case.

When you are ready to pack away your allergies for good, call CT Sinus Center at 860-BALLOON to make an appointment. When you first come in, our expert team will sit down with you to discuss your medical history and allergy symptoms. Next, through our patient-centered philosophy and up-to-date diagnostic tools, we will pinpoint what is causing your suffering and develop the right treatment for your lifestyle. With our four conveniently-located locations, this destination is definitely worth the trip.

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

Living with Lactose Intolerance

Lactose IntoleranceLast week in our blog “Am I Allergic to Milk?” we examined the difference between a milk allergy and lactose intolerance. In this blog, we are going to delve further into the latter. Here is what we said about intolerance:

Unlike an allergy, intolerance is a condition that does not involve the immune system and is caused from not having enough of the enzyme used to break down lactose. The discomfort felt from lactose intolerance will not necessarily happen every time the milk-based food or beverage is consumed. Depending on the level of lactose intolerance you have, you may be able to eat small amounts without a reaction, and even a severe reaction is usually not life-threatening.

Symptoms of lactose intolerance include:

  • Stomach pain
  • Gas and bloating
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea

When you are looking at ingredient labels, remember that lactose often goes by other names such as whey and casein. Nutritionists call these “hidden lactose.” You can find a comprehensive list of hidden lactose products with descriptions on the “Milk Allergy Avoidance List” provided by Kids with Food Allergies.

Unfortunately, while there is no cure for lactose intolerance, there are many ways to live with and avoid the discomfort caused from the condition. The following tips from WebMD can help prevent the common symptoms listed above:

  • Limit the amount milk products in your diet and only have a little at a time with other non-lactose foods
  • Try lactose-free or reduced-lactose products
  • Avoid lactose altogether

If you have a reaction to lactose, it is best to see a doctor in order to pinpoint the exact protein or substance that is causing the issue, as well as to make sure it is an intolerance rather than an allergy. When seeing a specialist you can expect a diagnosis based on:

  • A detailed history of your symptoms
  • A physical exam
  • Elimination diets

In addition to the above diagnosis methods, you may even undergo the following procedures in order to receive more accurate results:

  • Hydrogen Breath Test: Undigested lactose produces high levels of hydrogen gas in your breath. Doctors can diagnose lactose intolerance by measuring this hydrogen after you drink a lactose-loaded beverage.
  • Stool Acidity TestUndigested lactose also increases the amount of acid in the stool. Doctors may use this test to diagnose lactose intolerance in young children.
  • Food Allergy TestingIf your doctor suspects a milk allergy, you may be sent to an allergist for skin testing or have a blood sample drawn for laboratory allergy testing.

Stop living with lactose intolerance. Make an appointment with our expert physicians at CT Sinus Center and put a permanent end to your suffering. When you come in, we’ll sit down and discuss your symptoms before we start a series of diagnostic procedures like those above to figure out whether or not lactose is responsible for your discomfort. Once we get answers, we’ll develop a treatment plan that is right for your specific lifestyle. Today there are so many lactose-free options out there, you won’t even miss it.

No use crying over milk, spilled or otherwise. Call us today at 860-BALLOON and make an appointment at one of our four conveniently-located offices.

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

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.

The Biting Truth about Insect Allergies

Insect Summer is here, which means that so are the bugs, and unfortunately, bug bites. Getting bit or stung is uncomfortable for everyone, but for some people, it can be deadly. Insect and bug allergies can range from mild to severe, the latter of which needing immediate medical attention.

How do you know if you are having an allergic reaction to an insect bite or sting?

Bees, wasps, yellow jackets, hornets, and fire ants are the most likely to cause an allergic reaction. For most people, a sting or bite causes some pain, itching, swelling and/or redness at the spot. The swelling can spread to a larger area (called large local reaction), but unless it is accompanied by extreme pain, will clear up on it’s own in a few days. However, if the extended spot is really painful, antihistamines and corticosteroids might be prescribed to make you more comfortable.

In the case of a severe allergic reaction, you will need immediate help. The American College of Asthma, Allergy & Immunology (ACAAI) lists the following symptoms of a severe reaction:

  • Hives, itching and swelling in areas other than the sting site
  • Abdominal cramping, vomiting, intense nausea or diarrhea
  • Tightness in the chest and difficulty in breathing
  • Hoarse voice or swelling of the tongue or throat, or difficulty swallowing
  • Anaphylaxis

The good news is that a severe reaction is rare and most bites and stings will heal on their own within a few hours or days. Of course the best way to deal with bug bites is to not get them at all. But unfortunately, that’s not that easy and if you do get stung, WebMD offers some at-home first-aid (including what to do if the little pest left its stinger behind).  If you search online, you can also find natural remedies such as ice, honey, garlic, menthol, banana and essential oils that can help with discomfort.

If you think you’ve had an allergic reaction to an insect in the past, consult an allergist such as our expert team at CT Sinus Center. When you come in our staff will take a detailed history of your medical history and past reactions. Next, we’ll provide a series of test to find out exactly what and how severe your allergy is. Last, but certainly not least, we’ll provide you with an individualized treatment plan that will help take the sting out of your allergy.

Call CT Sinus Center today at 860-BALLOON to schedule an appointment at one of our four conveniently-located offices, and let us help you keep allergies from bugging you.

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

CT Sinus Center Welcomes Medicaid and Medicare Patients

MedicareAre you a Medicaid or Medicare patient who is:

If you are experiencing one or more of these conditions, have you been checked out by a specialist yet? Why not?

Our physicians at CT Sinus Center are certified experts in the treatment of all types of allergy and sinus discomfort and can have you feeling relief in no time. Our focus is on patient-centered care, which means that from the moment you first walk through the door, our staff will do whatever it takes to make sure that you are comfortable and that we come up with exactly the right treatment plan for you. To do this, we begin by sitting down and talking to you about your symptoms and medical history. Next, we’ll perform up-to-date tests to pinpoint exactly what is causing your suffering. Finally, we’ll develop your individualized treatment plan, which may include lifestyle changes, medication and/or one of our two outpatient procedures, both of which will permanently 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

Maybe you haven’t called yet because yet because you’ve had problems in the past with doctor offices accepting Medicaid or Medicare. Unfortunately we know that happens a lot more than people think it does, and we know how frustrating it is when you aren’t able to get the level of care you deserve. At CT Sinus Center, our administrative staff is well-versed in handling these claims and welcome Medicaid and Medicare patients to our facility.

Stop suffering from allergy and sinus issues; call us today at 860-BALLOON to schedule an appointment at one of our four conveniently-located offices.

If you are suffering from ear, nose or throat problems, our sister office, Westwood ENT, also makes it easy for Medicaid and Medicare patients to be treated. Call them at (203) 574-5997.

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

How to Host an Allergy-Free Thanksgiving

ThanksgivingThere is so much to be thankful for during this season: family, friends, health, and of course … food. As we get together with our loved ones this Thanksgiving, there are some things we have to keep in mind to ensure that everyone stays happy and healthy:

It’s all fun and games until someone has an allergy attack. For many people, a little friendly competition via backyard football game is a holiday tradition. Aside from the obvious dangers (sprained ankles, skinned knees, elbows to the nose), playing outside this time of year can trigger mold allergies. So perhaps it’s best to leave the sport to the pros on television. Instead, suggest some of these great indoor game ideas from Pinterest’s “Thanksgiving Games” Board.

Fido may be a part of your family, but your guests may not share the bond. The allergens that cause pet allergies are present in the skin cells that dogs and cats shed, and they can remain airborne for quite some time. This means that even when your fur babies aren’t around, the allergens still may be. Before guests arrive, make sure to do a deep cleaning (not that you won’t regardless) and if you can, give your pets a bath. If necessary, keep them in a part of the house that is separate from where guests will be. And if you decided to sneak your loyal companions a little turkey because they are beings such good boys and girls, yes they are, go ahead — we won’t tell.

Food comas are only good if they are caused by eating too much good stuff. In “Allergy-free Food to Give Thanks For,” we discussed food allergies and food intolerances  caused by traditional Thanksgiving treats — those made with milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, soy, gluten and/or wheat. To help you plan for guests with special dietary needs, we’ve provided some links to allergy-free recipes. These meals are so delicious that you may want to prepare them regardless of whether or not your guests have restrictions.

  • Gluten Free & More: “These great holiday recipes are also free from dairy, corn, soy, rice, nuts and eggs!”
  • Go Dairy Free: “The Biggest Gathering of Dairy-Free Thanksgiving Recipes”
  • Eating with Food Allergies: “With a few substitutions you can have a feast free of the top 8 allergens.”

Keep these tips in mind and you will be the Thanksgiving host(ess) with the most(ess).  

Everyone here at CT Sinus Center wants to thank you for trusting your sinus care to us and hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

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

How to Have a Fang-tastic and Allergy-free Halloween

The spookiest time of the year is upon us again and while ghosts and ghouls may not be real, the dangers inherent in the Halloween season are.

When you think of Halloween allergies, probably the first thing that comes to mind is scary stuff about treats and food allergies. For more information on those and how to keep those frightful triggers from attacking, visit our blog “Avoiding Food Allergies: Tricks for Treats.”

However, don’t breath a sigh of relief just yet. There are a few Halloween threats that are still lurking in the shadows. The following list shines a light on them to help keep you safe:

Costumes. Sure a scary costume will cause your heart to beat faster and make it difficult to breath, but it may actually be the costume itself that is causing the discomfort. Be on the lookout for latex or nickel, materials that are commonly found in masks, pieces of costume clothing, and accessories. Make sure to check all the labels on even the smallest costume item.

Makeup. As we discussed in “A Beauty Products Allergy: Not Just Skin-Deep,” many ingredients in makeup can result in a type of allergy called contact dermatitis. For more information on skin allergies and their causes, visit our blog “Scratching Out Skin Allergies.” Also, latex found in special effects makeup can trigger a severe reaction and even anaphylaxis. Again, be sure to check all labels before using.

Anything that has been packed away. Costumes and decorations that have spent the last 11 or 12 months packed away in a box may be full of dust and mold. Be sure to clean them thoroughly before using as the allergens can be dangerous for people with allergies or asthma.

Fog. Smoke machines that create fog are really cool, but they are only fun until someone can’t breathe. The American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology explains that “the irritant effect of short term exposure to water-based fog machines – particularly when the chemical glycol is used could trigger acute asthma symptoms.” This occurs because this type of machine reduces oxygen levels, which can be dangerous even for people without these conditions.

Cold. It’s likely that on Halloween, it’s pretty cold out and staying out in the lower temperature during trick-or-treating can make allergies and asthma worse. Combine that with the physical activity of going house to house and it can be a real fright. Remember, too, that this is leave season, which also means mold season, which is also an allergy trigger. Make sure to dress warmly and be aware of the start of any respiratory issues, and take breaks if necessary.

Emotions. Halloween ‘tis the season of being scared and excited, and this is supposed to be fun for everyone. However, did you know that emotional responses such as these can trigger both allergy and asthma attacks? If you are someone you know suffers from either, keep an eye out for reactions during any highly emotional period and act accordingly.

Keep these tips in mind and everyone is sure to have a bootiful time. Everyone here at CT Sinus Center hopes that this Halloween you all eat, drink, be safe and be scary!

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

Gluten Sensitivity: It Does Exist

gluten sensitivityOne of the most troublesome and frustrating things about experiencing bloating from a gluten sensitivity is that the problem can often go undiagnosed for years. This is partly because up until very recently, the medical world didn’t recognize non-celiac, non-wheat allergy discomfort as a thing. Another reason is that bloating can be caused by a number of dietary issues as well as water gain, dehydration, stress, medication, and illness, and there had not previously been a scientific way to tie it to gluten consumption.

Luckily for sufferers today, the condition is becoming widely recognized. According to the article “Is Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity Real?” on WebMD, “Between 0.5 percent and 6 percent of the general population are estimated to have non-celiac wheat sensitivity.” However, Armin Alaedini, a senior researcher and assistant professor of medicine at Columbia University, points out that this is not an exact number as to date, there haven’t been accurate diagnostic tools or studies on the condition.

That said, we may be getting closer to a true diagnostic test as the article continues on to state that “Some people suffer changes within their bodies after eating gluten that are separate and distinct from those that accompany either celiac disease or wheat allergy, researchers report.” In other words, first science has confirmed that gluten sensitivity exists and now is getting closer to isolating the substance that triggers it.

All of that said, for those people who do experience bloating from a gluten sensitivity, the connection may be recognizable once they think about their eating habits and when the discomfort occurs. Even before people began to understand that the illness exists. Sufferers may have also realized that they experience many of the other ailments now linked to the condition:

  • Brain fog
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Heartburn and burping
  • Abdominal pain
  • Bloating
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Headaches
  • Bone or joint pain
  • Tingling in hands or feet
  • Chronic fatigue

As of today, the best way to avoid a gluten reaction is to remove wheat from your diet. Unfortunately, this is easier said than done as gluten is a commonly used ingredient in many of the foods we eat on a daily basis. So to help you plan gluten-free meals, the Celiac Disease Foundation has compiled a list of sources of gluten and their derivatives to avoid as well as one of foods that are safe to eat. WebMd also offers tips for gluten-free living in this sideshow. Last but not least, many companies are now making gluten-free products to meet the growing demands of consumers looking to avoid gluten for any reason.

Do you want to spice up your own gluten-free diet? Check out the following recipe sites that offer such delicious cuisine that even people who have no gluten reaction will find the meals delightful:

If you think that you or someone you love is suffering from a gluten sensitivity, schedule an appointment at CT Sinus Center for food allergy testing. Our expert physicians will take the time to thoroughly discuss your diet and symptoms before administering diagnostic testing. Although there is no exact test for gluten sensitivity, by process of elimination and dietary counseling, we’ll get you back to feeling and eating healthy in no time.

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

And for all things allergy– and sinus-related, check out 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
    • Solar Urticaria occurs with direct exposure from the sun and manifests as a itching, redness and hives. 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. 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.

How the Pollen Count Is Measured


In last week’s blog “Allergens Are Coming: Be Prepared,” we discussed the rising pollen count and how it will affect your seasonal allergies. Actually, we talk about pollen count a lot, but have you ever wondered exactly what it is and how it is determined?

WebMD explains that the pollen count is determined by a formula that measures the number of pollen grains per cubic meter of air. The result fluctuates due to location and weather conditions, but no matter what, the higher the number, the worse you feel.

How is pollen count measured?

The National Allergy Bureau (NAB) actually has volunteer counters that must be certified through the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI). The criteria for the position is high:

This program requires candidates to successfully complete both a 70 question multiple choice exam and a slide identification exam based on the “Knowledge Base for Counters.” The exam has a pass rate of 80%.To be a pollen counter, an applicant must accurately identify and count pollen on an actual pollen slide. To be a mold counter, an applicant must accurately identify and count mold spores on an actual mold slide (AAAAI).

These counters use machines called volumetric air samplers or rotation impact samplers, depending on whether they are counting both mold and pollen or only pollen, respectively. The actual pollen and mold spore count is reported and then matched to the appropriate level (low, moderate, high, very high) on the NAB pollen chart. This information later appears on pollen count and news websites.

Credit: American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology

Credit: American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology

This process is extremely interesting, but you really don’t need fancy equipment and a national bureau to tell you that the pollen count is high — your runny nose; itchy, watery eyes and sinus headache are all the proof you need. On the other hand, at CT Sinus Center, we offer numerous processes that can keep you breathing freely and enjoying your life no matter what the pollen count is.

With a patient-centered approach, our expert physicians will talk to you about your allergies and perform thorough skin testing to figure out exactly what is causing your symptoms. They will then create an individualized treatment plan that will have you saying goodbye to your allergies forever.

You may even be eligible for Balloon Sinus Dilation, an in-house process in which a small balloon is inflated in the nasal cavity under local anesthesia to promote drainage and natural healing. The benefits of this procedure include:

  • Long-term relief
  • Minimal downtime and recovery time
  • Increased airflow in nasal passages
  • Decrease in headaches
  • Non-invasive procedure done under local anesthesia

Now that is a process that is both interesting and relevant to your good health.

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.