Food Allergies


Allergies: The Hidden Risks of Festivals

Allergies: The Hidden Risks of FestivalsThe time has come to celebrate music (of any genre), food, flowers, fashion, time periods or anything else you are passionate about: It’s festival season. However, before you pack your bag and head out for the festivities, there are a few things to keep in mind if you suffer from allergies.

Nature. Most festivals are held in the great outdoors. This means that as a festival-goers, you can expect to be surrounded not only by an abundance of new friends, but also countless (and familiar) allergy triggers, such as pollen,  mold and even sun and heat. Since you will be outdoors much of the time, your exposure to these triggers will be prolonged, so be sure to take the proper precautions (whether that means taking medication, applying bug repellant, wearing sunscreen  and/or limiting outside time as much as possible).

Food. What fun is a festival without delicious food! However, whether you are purchasing your meals from a food truck or a concession stand, it’s very difficult to know what ingredients are being used. This is especially true because the food at festivals tends to be as creative as the participants surrounding it, which can be very dangerous if you have any food allergies or intolerances. If this is an issue, make sure to ask vendors for the list of ingredients in what you want to order; they are probably asked this all the time and will not hesitate to tell you. Remember that a  festival is not the time to become an adventurous eater because if you do, you may spend the rest of the festival indisposed, and no one wants that. You may even be able to bring your own food if the festival allows, which can be life- and money-saving.

Body Decorating.  This may be a strange thing to see on a list talking about allergies, but it’s here because it’s not something people of think about. Over the years, face painting and fake tattoos have become a staple of the festival scene, for children and adults, but they have also been known to cause a  reaction, most often on the skin.  Another popular festival adornment that can cause a reaction is henna. Heather from Henna by Heather explains:

The number one thing to watch out for is people using what they may call “black henna” that actually isn’t henna at all, but is instead paraphenylenediamine aka PPD for short. It is a highly concentrated industrial dye that is also used in many commercial hair dyes. It is not intended to be used on skin, and can give serious chemical burns and leave scars.

Real, natural henna, on the other hand, typically only contains natural ingredients. My professional mix includes the leaves of the henna plant, lemon juice, and cajeput essential oil. We keep a list of all the ingredients prominently posted in our booth and are always happy to answer questions.

Professionals will be able to quickly and easily list the ingredients in their mix, which should all be plant-based and all natural. If in doubt, ask for a tiny test spot. If that spot is light orange the first day, chances are that it is indeed natural henna. If it’s dark brown or, worse, black, right away, steer clear.

If you keep all of these things in mind, you can kick off the 2017 festival season right and celebrate without too much allergy suffering until it’s time for fall festival season to begin.  If you want to be proactive, make an appointment at CT Sinus Center by calling 860-BALLOON for a diagnosis of what’s causing your symptoms and a permanent solution to end them.

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


5 Tips for Handling the Holidays with Allergies

HolidaysIt’s the most wonderful time of the year again; a time when friends and families join together to celebrate the holidays. With the festivities getting closer, we wanted to take time to share some resources that will help you stay happy and healthy into the new year.

  1. Safety first. Safety Through the Season, 2015’s holiday contribution, takes a look the dangers that accompany the holiday season from fire danger to accidental food allergies to alcohol intolerance.
  2. Leave dust in the dust. Bust Your Dust Mite Allergy offers helpful tips on keeping your home free of allergens, which is especially important during a season when the windows are kept closed and the air is poorly circulated. Dust, and mold spores, can also sneak into your living areas on holiday decorations that have been stored away for the past year.
  3. Speaking of mold. In 7 Tips Com(piled) for Mold Allergy Season, we talked about mold and pollen that lives in the fallen leaves and damp conditions. Unfortunately, these allergens can also hitch a ride on your fresh-cut tree you set up in the living room and the logs you bring in for that cozy fire.
  4. You look marvelous. As you prepare to go out and celebrate, keep in mind that this may not be the best time to experiment with new beauty products or fragrances. Breaking out in an itchy rash or sneezing all night isn’t a good look for anyone.
  5. Come and get it. Of course we would be remiss if we didn’t provide links to tasty allergy-free recipes. For holiday treats appropriate for all different dietary needs, visit the following sites:

Everyone here at CT Sinus Center wishes you a safe and wonderful holiday season. We hope you get to spend time with friends and family and you get everything you ask for. However, if you get the gift of allergy relief this year, contact us at 860-BALLOON and make an appointment at one of our four conveniently-located offices. Our expert physicians will help you discover the joy that comes with allergy-free living through every season.

Happy holidays from our family, to yours!

For more information on allergy and sinus conditions, 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.


The Difference Between Celiac Disease and Wheat Allergy

celiac diseaseIn recent years, there has been a huge increase in attention given to gluten allergies. For a while, the condition seemed to become a “catch-all” diagnosis for all digestive problems, and people started going crazy trying to eliminate gluten from their diets — which is no small feat. Gluten, a substance often used to give food its shape and hold it together, seems to be everywhere, even in places you wouldn’t think, such as cosmetics and medications. However, there has been some misunderstandings about gluten allergies. For example, a gluten allergy (or celiac disease) is quite different from a gluten sensitivity. Another common misconception about gluten is that it is synonymous to wheat. However, gluten is actually a protein found in wheat, barley and rye, all of which are used to make a number of different things, and a wheat allergy is something totally different.

Let’s take a look at the differences between:

  • Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder in which a reaction to gluten causes the immune system to attack the lining of the small intestines, preventing it from absorbing nutrients effectively. Celiac Disease is serious and there are a multitude of symptoms, from digestive to musculoskeletal, and related conditions associated with the disorder. For more information on long-term health problems caused by celiac, visit WebMD.
  • Gluten sensitivity is not an autoimmune disorder and is still a bit of a mystery to the medical world as far as its causes, but scientists, and the people who suffer from it, now recognize its existence and the impact it has on quality of life. Non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS)  has symptoms that range from digestive distress to headaches and fatigue. A full explanation of the disorder can be found in our blog “Gluten Sensitivity: It Does Exist.”
  • Wheat allergy, also an autoimmune disorder, is a reaction to one of the numerous proteins found in wheat, and people who have a wheat allergy, unless suffering from celiac disease or a gluten sensitivity, can have gluten in non-wheat sources. The symptoms of a wheat allergy includes both respiratory and digestive issues and are similar to other food allergies. For more information on wheat allergies, visit the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology.

The first step to diagnosing whether or not you have one of these disorders is to see a doctor for testing. The Gluten Intolerance Group explains the process:

  • Starting the gluten-free diet without complete testing is not recommended and makes diagnosis difficult.
  • It is necessary to be consuming gluten in order for diagnostic tests to provide valid results.
  • The first step to diagnosing celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity is a panel of blood tests.
  • Wheat allergy is generally diagnosed through RAST or skin prick testing.
  • Non-celiac gluten sensitivity is diagnosed by first ruling out celiac disease, wheat allergy and other conditions which could be causing symptoms. Then, if improvement is seen on a gluten-free diet, NCGS may be diagnosed.

Luckily with celiac disease, NCGS and wheat allergies being in the spotlight, more and more people are getting diagnosed and helped much sooner. The even better news is that if you are diagnosed with any of these conditions, there are now tons of resources that will help you create delicious and satisfying gluten and/or wheat-free meals. To get you started, the Celiac Disease Foundation provides downloadable pediatric and adult “7-Day Gluten-Free Meal Plans” with shopping lists. The foundation also offers tips on reading labels so that you can rest assured that what you’re buying is safe for you and your family.

If you think you or a loved one may have celiac disease, NCGS and/or wheat allergies, schedule an appointment with CT Sinus Center today. Our expert physicians will take the time to thoroughly discuss your diet and symptoms before administering diagnostic testing and determining the best way for you to start eating in a way that keeps you both happy and healthy.

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.


Food for Thought: Food Allergy vs. Food Intolerance

Food IntolerancePeople often say that they can’t eat certain things because they are allergic to them, but in many cases, what they mean is that they have an intolerance to it. However, it is very important to understand the differences between a food allergy and a food intolerance, because that knowledge can literally save your, or someone else’s, life.

According to WebMD, the two conditions share the following symptoms:

  • Nausea
  • Stomach pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting

But that is where the similarities end.

Now let’s take a look at the differences.

This chart from the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital breaks them down clearly:

Food Intolerance

What causes food intolerance?

A food intolerance occurs when there is a problem in properly breaking down food in the digestive system. The most common intolerance is to lactose, and there are a few conditions that can provoke an intolerance reaction. Mayo Clinic cites the following triggers:

  • Absence of an enzyme needed to fully digest a food
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Food poisoning
  • Sensitivity to food additives
  • Recurring stress or psychological factors
  • Celiac disease

What causes food allergies?

A food allergy takes place in the immune system and, like seasonal allergies, occurs when your body determines something is harmful and produces antibodies called Immunoglobulin E (IgE). The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI) explains, “These antibodies travel to cells that release chemicals, causing an allergic reaction. Each type of IgE has a specific ‘radar’ for each type of allergen.”

According to Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE):

  • Researchers estimate that up to 15 million Americans have food allergies and the number of sufferers is on the rise for no known reason.
  • This potentially deadly disease affects 1 in every 13 children (under 18 years of age) in the U.S.
  • The economic cost of children’s food allergies is nearly $25 billion per year.

The following is a list of the most common allergens, with links to their descriptions on the FARE website. The site also discusses some of the less common, but equally as dangerous, food allergy triggers.

If you have a reaction, whether severe or mild, it is extremely important that you see a doctor in order to find out if you have an intolerance or an allergy and what has caused it. Through patient-centered care, our expert physicians at CT Sinus Center will use up-to-date diagnostic knowledge and tools to find out exactly what is triggering your reaction. And once that is determined, they will set up an effective, individualized treatment plan to keep you safe and feeling great.

To make an appointment at one of our four conveniently-located offices, call 860-BALLOON today. Food is one of the great pleasures of life; you deserve to enjoy it without anxiety.

For more information on food allergies, download the National Institution of Allergies and Infectious Diseases helpful guide for families.   

For more information on all things sinus and allergies, visit the CT Sinus 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.


Don’t Let Allergies Cost You Your Job

Young woman using computer in office

How many days have you called out of work because of sinus conditions this year?

First, your fall allergies were making you miserable. Then, just as you thought you’d start feeling better, with the unseasonably  warm weather, you may have been experiencing more headaches, sinus pressure, nasal congestion and coughing than you’re used to during the winter months. According to an Urgent Care physician: “We’ve been seeing an increase in patients with sinus infections. Because of the warm weather, many of the allergens you don’t usually see in the winter are sticking around, and people are suffering from worse winter allergies than normal. And then it turns into a sinus infection.”

Now that the anticipated winter weather has hit with below-freezing temperatures, brisk winds and snow, you’re having sinus issues on top of dealing with other cold-weather illnesses.

You can try decongestants and antihistamines to get you through the day. Or you can go to the doctor for a round of antibiotics, but with all the information about antibiotic misuse and resistance, this isn’t a route you want to take too many times.

Even if you have found success with these temporary treatments and you were able to get to work, you probably found yourself dragging and not being your most productive. With the winter weather really just beginning, how much productivity will you lose — or worse yet, how many more days will you have to call out? No matter how compassionate your boss is, understanding is limited when it comes to ineffectiveness and absenteeism.

When you’re ready to leave your sinus suffering behind and get back to feeling like you, book an appointment at CT Sinus Center and see how we can help. Our expert physicians will thoroughly assess your symptoms and discuss all of the available treatment options. You may be eligible for balloon sinus dilation, a simple, non-invasive procedure that can put an end to your sinus suffering forever — and it only takes about an hour. Visit our website or call 860-BALLOON for more information!

Say goodbye to your seasonal allergies and save those sick days for a better use.


Safety through the Season

Holiday_Party

With the holidays upon us, it’s time to get together with family and friends to celebrate the joy of the season. To help you get through it all happy and healthy, we bring you these tips:

Holy smokes! ‘Tis the season of stringing lights, burning candles, building fires and decking the halls.  However, if these things aren’t done carefully, a beautiful display can become a horror show. Keep flammables, including your Christmas tree, away from open flames. Also, make sure to inspect all cords before using them, especially if they’ve been packed away for the year; and remember that when it comes to extension cords, don’t double up — one is enough. For more information on keeping your family safe during the holidays and beyond, visit the U.S. Fire Administration site.

Pretty Dangerous. Mistletoe, Poinsettias and Holly are just some of the flowers that symbolize the holiday season. However, if ingested by humans or pets, these beauties can be poisonous. When using them to decorate, it’s best to place them somewhere out of reach. If there is an emergency, call poison control immediately 1-800-222-1222.

That’s no tree to sneeze at. Have you noticed that your winter allergies seem to get worse around your real Christmas tree? That’s because while the tree is still living outside, it collects pollen and mold, which in turn trigger allergies. If you or someone in your family is sensitive to mold, consider putting up an artificial tree or only keeping the real one in the house for a few days.

Drink Responsibly. Mixology is an art form, and bartenders love opportunities to show off their skills at holiday parties. While their creations are tasty, they may also contain ingredients that trigger food allergies. In addition, some people may have an intolerance for alcohol itself, or rather the chemicals, grains or preservative within in. Symptoms of alcohol intolerance include: facial redness (flushing); warm, red, itchy bumps on the skin (hives); worsening of preexisting asthma; runny or stuffy nose; low blood pressure; nausea and vomiting, and diarrhea. So as you raise your glass in celebration, make sure you know what’s in it.

Hold the nuts. Yes, we all have that relative, but we’re talking about the edible kind. One of the best things about this season is the food; but creating allergy-free meals can be challenging. Visit our Halloween and Thanksgiving blogs for tips on making treats that everyone can enjoy!

Relax. Just do it. This time of year can be incredibly stressful. Make sure to take care of yourself, slow down and enjoy everything that’s going on around you. Follow these tips to say goodbye to holiday stress and anxiety,and give yourself the the gift of peace.  

All of us at CT Sinus Center wish you and your family a happy holiday season and thank you for being a part of our family.

Happy Holidays!

(For more information on all things allergies, visit our website and Facebook page.)

 


Avoiding Food Allergies: Tricks for Treats

241893085

The most frightening part of Halloween is not what creeps in the dark, but what lurks in your child’s trick-or-treat bag.  Some of the most common food allergens are present in a good portion of traditional Halloween candy. These hidden dangers can be any of the following:

  • Eggs
  • Milk
  • Peanuts
  • Tree nuts
  • Wheat
  • Gelatin
  • Food dyes/colors

Some people have what is known as a food intolerance, which means that their exposure to these allergens may cause a temporary discomfort, which while not at all fun, is not serious. On the other hand, people who suffer from food allergies develop severe symptoms that require medical attention. These dangerous reactions can begin within two minutes to two hours, and present with any or all of the following:

  • Tingling or itching in the mouth
  • Hives, itching or eczema
  • Runny, stuffy nose, watery eyes, sneezing
  • Swelling of the lips, face, tongue and throat or other parts of the body
  • Wheezing or trouble breathing
  • Abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea or vomiting
  • Dizziness, lightheadedness or fainting

In many instances, these symptoms will lead to Anaphylaxis. When the body goes into Anaphylaxis, it is essentially going into shock. At this point, the person will experience:

  • Sudden drop in blood pressure
  • Narrowing of airways, making it difficult to breathe
  • Rapid, weak pulse
  • Skin rash
  • Nausea and vomiting

Anaphylaxis is a life-threatening condition and requires medical attention immediately. The moment you even suspect your child is experiencing any of these symptoms, dial 911.

As a parent, merely thinking about the threat of your child suffering from a food allergy may just scare you to death. But before you call off Halloween traditions for good, read our following suggestions on how to have an allergy-free Halloween.

Read labels carefully. Sometimes you’ll find allergens you’d never expect in certain foods so look closely at the ingredients of everything. Did you know that the allergy warnings on different candies from the same company may be different depending on the size of the treat? For example, a full-size chocolate bar may have a different warning than a fun-sized one. Also, the FDA doesn’t require manufacturers to include advisory labels such as “May contain wheat.” While most candy makers will, it is best to err on the side of caution. For more information on this topic, click here.

Don’t leave candy your child can’t have laying around. Do you know what makes candy taste even better to any child? Being told she or he can’t have it. If you have candy that contains allergens in the house, keep it out of sight and mind.

Hand out food allergy-friendly candy. Even if your child does not have food allergies, you’re never sure which little zombie or super hero may. Play it safe for everyone.

Keep it clean. Sometimes just touching an allergen will trigger a reaction. Instead of letting your child reach into the candy bowl, ask the adult to drop it in the bag. Carry antiseptic wipes in case your child does handle a troublesome piece of candy, or better yet, work a pair of gloves into her or his costume.

Create new Halloween traditions. Instead of trick-or-treating (which in these days seems to be less common anyway), throw a Halloween party stocked with spooky activities and delicious allergy-free treats.

Carry your child’s self-injectable epinephrine pen. It’s always best to be cautious and ready.

By simply taking these precautions, you can help ensure that the only frights you have this season are those of the fun kind.

The physicians and staff of  CT Sinus Center wish you a spooktacular (and safe) Halloween!
(For more information on all things  allergies, visit the CT Sinus Center website.)