Mold


What’s Up with Fall Allergies

FallWith fall weather approaching — or, as we are in New England, coming and going and coming and going — it’s time to think about this season’s allergies. In our blog “The Truth About Fall Allergies,” we stated that the most common triggers for this time of year are ragweed and pollen. In this blog, we are going to take a closer look at each one.

Ragweed, is described by Allergic Living as the “super-villain of allergy plants.” There are at least 17 different species of ragweed in the United States, however the two most common types are common ragweed (Ambrosia artemisiifolia) and giant ragweed (Ambrosia trifida). Ragweed season usually runs from August through October and it can be found pretty much everywhere. Even if it isn’t growing in your immediate area, its pollen might be. According to the Allergy and Asthma Foundation of America:

  • One plant can produce up to 1 billion pollen grains.
  • The light pollen is easily carried by the wind and has been found in the air 400 miles out to sea and 2 miles up in the atmosphere.

When is ragweed pollen at its worst? That depends on where you are. The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of AmericaⓇ (New England Chapter) explains:

  • Warmth, lowered humidity, and active breezes after sunrise create the ideal environment for pollen release.
  • Near the plants, pollen levels are highest shortly after dawn. The amount of airborne pollen peaks in many urban areas between 10:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m.
  • Rain and/or low morning temperatures (below 50° F) can block or slow pollen release on that day.

Mold can also be found everywhere, including inside, so there is little escaping it during the fall season. The Center for Disease Control and and Prevention (CDC) has cited the following as the most common types:

  • Alternaria
  • Aspergillus
  • Cladosporium
  • Penicillium

Outdoor mold thrives in damp, humid environments and in our part of the world, triggers allergy symptoms from summer to fall. Indoor mold also flourishes under those conditions, however, if the circumstances are right, can last year-round. For more information on keeping mold, and your mold allergies at bay, visit our blogs:

If you are suffering from mold and/or ragweed allergies — or think you may be  — you can do one of two things:

1. Check the pollen and mold count daily and take allergy medications.

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2. Make an appointment at CT Sinus Center and put a permanent end to your suffering.

We highly suggest the second option. When you first come in, our expert team will talk to you about your medical history and your symptoms. Next, through our patient-centered philosophy and up-to-date diagnostic tools, we will pinpoint what is causing your discomfort and develop the right treatment for your lifestyle. You may even be a candidate for one of our two outpatient procedures, both of which will end your 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

Call 860-BALLOON to schedule an appointment at one of CT Sinus Center’s four conveniently-located offices and watch your allergy symptoms be gone with the fall wind.

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


7 Tips Com(piled) for Mold Allergy Season

Mold Allergy SeasonIf you live in New England, fallen leaves are just another fact of life, and so is having to rake them. There are a few people who find raking cathartic, but most find it a bothersome chore. And whether they like it or not, for people with fall allergies, raking leaves can be downright dangerous.

Leave piles are a breeding ground for mold spores, and the spores themselves are extremely airborne, especially during the warm part of the day. Because they are so light, mold spores are easily inhaled. Therefore, just being around mold can trigger an allergic reaction, so you can imagine what raking them and stirring up the pollen can do.

The best way to avoid mold allergy symptoms is simply to stay away from mold — but that is easier said than done. You have to go outside and if you have a yard, you’ll have to rake leaves. And anyway, you don’t want to allow allergies to keep you trapped inside the house on beautiful fall days.

To help you get through leave season as healthy as possible, we have compiled a list of ways to reduce your symptoms as much as possible.

  1. Check the pollen count. Try to do your yardwork on the days that the pollen and mold counts are lower. For up-to-date tree, weed, grass and mold levels in your area, visit the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology.
  2. Clean your gutters. Leaves can accumulate in the gutters, where if left, will further decay and produce mold.

  3. Wear a mask. The American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology suggests a NIOSH rated N95 mask for preventing inhalation of pollen and mold spores while working outside.

  4. Keep windows closed and clean air filters. Since they are so light and airborne, it is easy for the mold spores living in the leaves to come in through your windows, air conditioners and air purifiers.

  5. Shower/bathe after raking leaves. After working in the yard, bathe in order to clean off any pollen and spores that are on your skin. Then put on clean clothes and wash the ones you were wearing. Dry them in the drier or inside so because wet clothes hanging on a line will attract allergens.

  6. Take allergy medication. Over-the-counter and prescription medications come in many forms — antihistamines, decongestants, and nasal sprays — and, while temporary fixes, work well when taken correctly. Allergy shots lead to permanent relief, but the process itself takes many years and numerous injections per month.

  7. Visit CT Sinus Center. If you are looking for a permanent solution to your fall mold allergies, especially if you suffer from seasonal allergies year long, we can help. Through our patient-centered philosophy and up-to-date diagnostic tools, our expert physicians will find the right treatment for your specific symptoms. 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

Call 860-BALLOON to schedule an appointment at one of  CT Sinus Center’s four conveniently-located offices, and let us help you leave your mold allergies behind.

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


Don’t Let Mold Ruin Your Summer

MoldWhen asked about how they are feeling in the hot weather, people will often say, “It’s not the heat that bothers me, it’s the humidity.” This is because high humidity inhibits a person’s ability to sweat, consequently keeping the body from doing that thing that cools it down. But for mold allergy suffers, there are additional concerns that arise during hot, humid weather because those conditions create a breeding ground for mold spores, especially in the home.

According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI), there are “roughly 1,000 species of mold in the United States — many of which aren’t visible to the naked eye.” WebMD also states that an estimated 5% of Americans suffer from mold allergies.

How do you know if you have a mold allergy? Here is a list of symptoms from the ACAAI, which as you can see, are very similar to those of pollen allergies:

  • Nasal congestion
  • Runny nose
  • Sneezing
  • Irritated eyes
  • Coughing
  • Wheezing
  • Itchy throat
  • Inducing or worsening asthma

Now while you can’t do much about humidity, you can take precautions against exposure to mold for yourself and your home. Mayo Clinic offers the following tips for keeping you and your family safe:

  • Stay indoors when the weather is especially damp or when the mold count is high.
  • Close windows at night because there are greater amounts of airborne mold spores during the cooler and damper part of the day.
  • Clean garbage cans and refrigerators often.
  • Wear a mask when cleaning moldy areas (bleach works well for cleaning mold) or if you are working outside in damp conditions.
  • Make sure that all bathrooms with showers or bathtubs are properly ventilated.
  • Don’t put carpet in rooms where mold can easily grow, such as bathrooms and basements.
  • Use a dehumidifier, but make sure to clean it regularly.
  • Turn on your air conditioning, especially one with a HEPA filter, and clean it regularly.
  • Have your furnace cleaned regularly.
  • Don’t leave paper items like books in damp places.

For an interactive tour of the areas of your home that can house mold, visit the US Environmental Protection Agency’s Mold House Tour.

If you think that you may be suffering from mold allergies, schedule an appointment with CT Sinus Center to find out for sure. Our expert physicians will take the time to sit down with you and discuss your symptoms before using up-to-date diagnostic techniques to see what is causing your suffering. Once they have determined what it is, they will create an individualized treatment plan based on your needs. That plan may include antihistamines, decongestants, corticosteroids, Montelukast or allergy shots. Or you may be eligible for one of our two outpatient procedures, both of which will provide permanent relief from your suffering:

  • 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

If you are ready to make your mold allergy old news, call us today at 860-BALLOON to 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.


5 Things to Know About Allergies at the Beach

BeachSummer is here and for many of us, that means packing up the car and heading to the beach. The trip is an especially nice break for seasonal allergy sufferers because due to the breeze coming off the water, and lack of trees and grasses, pollen counts at the shore are much lower than they are inland.

Unfortunately this doesn’t mean that there are no pesky allergy triggers lurking at the beach, and in this blog, we are going to look at some not-so-common irritants that you should be aware when you and your family hit the sand.

  1. Sun. We all know about the dangers of burning and melanoma, but did you know that people can also be allergic to the sun? We’re not talking about sunscreen, although that can trigger an allergic reaction as well; we mean the actual sun. Certain medical conditions and medications can make people extra sensitive to the sun, but others actually experience allergic reactions, even if exposed for a short time. These reactions are due to cholinergic or solar urticaria:
    • Cholinergic Urticaria, also known as heat rash, manifests as chronic hives caused by an increase in body heat. This temperature change can be due to many things, including warm weather and hot sun. For resources on the condition, visit CholinergicUrticaria.net.
    • Solar Urticaria occurs with direct exposure from the sun and manifests as a itching, redness and hives. Verywell.com explains, “[I]t appears that people with solar urticaria make allergic antibodies against various proteins found in their own skin. These proteins’ structure changes with sunlight, allowing the allergic reaction to occur.” If the reaction is severe enough, solar urticaria can lead to anaphylactic shock.
  2. Mold. This well-known allergen thrives in dampness and humidity, and these conditions are thriving in coastal and beach areas, both indoors and out.
  3. Dust mites. Where there is warmth and humidity, there are also dust mites. In fact, dust mites peak during the summer months both in coastal and inland areas (along with all the seasonal insects that can trigger allergic reactions).
  4. Water. H2O, itself, presents no danger to allergy sufferers, but we can’t say the same for some of the things in it.
    • According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, people are not actually allergic to chlorine, but it does function as an irritant and can cause skin redness, itchiness, inflammation and hives. It can also cause respiratory symptoms in people with asthma and allergic rhinitis.
    • Mayo Clinic describes swimmer’s itch as “an allergic reaction to microscopic parasites that burrow into your skin. The parasites associated with swimmer’s itch normally live in waterfowl and some animals that live near the water.” The red or purple bumps are annoying, but harmless, and don’t last long. They can, however, take days to develop.
  5. BBQs. Of course you should always be sensitive to people’s food allergies, but you’ll also want to consider how you are cooking that food. Grill fires built with wood such as mesquite, oak, cedar and hickory contain allergens that may affect people with sensitive tree allergies. Verywell.com cautions, “[I]t is possible to be allergic to the smoke, and to any food barbecued with the smoke.”

Summertime should be all about living easy and taking advantage of the warm weather. With an understanding of the risks associated with the season, you will be able to make sure you and your family enjoy safe and healthy fun in the sun!

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


Sneezing in a Winter Wonderland

Don’t let this be the winter of your discontent because you’re suffering from allergies. Even though everything has frozen over, humidity is at an all-time low, and the pollen count is pretty-much non-existent, there are still allergens floating around that can make you miserable.

In fact, many of the things that can trigger allergies in the wintertime are the same as the culprits that attack during the other seasons:

  • Mold: Even when it’s cold outside, there can still be dampness in your house, which in turn can host mold. Bathrooms and basements are typical growth areas, but you may also find mold in places that aren’t properly insulated or in the pile of fireplace wood that you just brought in from outside.
  • Dust mites: With forced-air furnaces and lack of ventilation, not to mention children who spend more time inside than out, the airborne dust can really pile up. The same goes for pet dander.

In addition, the symptoms of winter allergies are the same as in any other season:

  • Runny nose and nasal congestion
  • Watery or itchy eyes  
  • Sneezing
  • Coughing
  • Itchy nose, roof of mouth or throat
  • Sinus pressure and facial pain
  • Circles under the eyes
  • Decreased sense of smell or taste

The difference is that in the winter, not only are you faced with these ailments, but also freezing cold temperatures, a weakened immune system and viruses that spread like wildfire. Suffering through winter allergies can really make you want to crawl into bed and hibernate.

Unfortunately for most of us, hibernation is not an option. Luckily, there are some things you can do to minimize the impact of winter allergens, including cleaning regularly and using a dehumidifier in problem areas. You can also try over-the-counter or prescription medications to alleviate your symptoms. However, if you are looking for a more permanent solution, especially if you suffer year-round, schedule a consultation at CT Sinus Center to see how we can help.

When you come in to CT Sinus Center, one of our expert physicians will sit down with you to thoroughly discuss your symptoms and diagnostic processes. We offer specific skin testing to evaluate for environmental allergies, including fungi. Once we diagnose specifically what is triggering your allergies, we’ll work to develop an individualized and effective treatment plan.

You may be eligible for balloon sinus dilation, a non-invasive, outpatient procedure that opens up the nasal passages, allowing more airflow and drainage, which in turn prevents future sinus issues. When you undergo balloon sinus dilation, in just under an hour, you will be on your way to long-lasting allergy relief. After all, don’t you deserve a break from the discomfort allergies bring during any season?


How Work is Making You Sick

You felt great when you woke up — well rested and ready to start the day. You had a nutritious breakfast, a strong cup of coffee, and even enjoyed the cool breeze coming through your half-open car window as you drove to work. However, now that you are at work, you feel like you’ve just been hit with a terrible head cold: you’re all congested and your eyes are itchy, you have sinus pressure and your throat is scratchy. What’s going on?

Unfortunately, you may be suffering from allergies. Many people don’t realize that workspaces can be filled with all kinds of irritants that can trigger allergies, even allergies you didn’t know you had.

Two of the most common causes of allergies in the workplace are dust mites and mold. While you can definitely find these irritants at home, and they are primary causes of seasonal allergies, you are also more in control of taking care of these problems in your own house. At work, while you can keep your area clean, you may not have access to other places of concern, such as the ventilation system or even coworkers’ spaces.

Speaking of coworkers, another primary source of workplace allergies is the fragrance in beauty products. When you hear this, you may think about that one coworker who comes to the office smelling like she bathed in perfume. However the problem isn’t always that extreme; nowadays, fragrance is in everything from shampoo to body wash to cosmetics. And even if each item on its own may not bother you, the combination may. Now consider this and multiply the issue by how many coworkers you have. That is a huge combination of fragrances.

Also, how many of your coworkers have pets? Of course, unless it is “bring your pet to work day,” you don’t have to worry about Fido making you sneeze, right? Well, think again. People with highly sensitive allergies can be affected by the pet dander on coworkers’ clothes and personal belongings.

The good news is that if this sounds like you, now you can legitimately tell people that work is making you sick. But short of quitting your job, what can you do about it? Well, for short-term help, you can try over-the-counter medications. The problem is they only work temporarily, and the more your allergies flare up, the more fatigued you become. In turn, the more fatigued you are, the more your allergies flare up. It’s a vicious circle, and considering the amount of time you spend at work, you probably want relief that is a bit more permanent.

So when you are ready to say goodbye to workplace allergies, call CT Sinus Center at 860-BALLOON  to book a consultation with one of our knowledgeable physicians. We will take the time to sit down with you and discuss your specific symptoms and treatment options, including Balloon Sinus Dilation, a non-invasive procedure available only at CT Sinus Center that will end your sinus suffering forever.

Come visit us so that the next time you have to call out sick, it’s because you are planning a fun day rather than experiencing terrible allergies. But don’t tell your employer we said that.


The Truth About Fall Allergies

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It’s that time of the year again. The humidity is gone, pumpkin spice everything is available, and the leaves are turning beautiful shades of yellow, orange, and red. You might be enjoying all of the season’s charm if your head wasn’t so stuffy. Unfortunately, you are probably experiencing the following symptoms as well:

  • Runny nose and nasal congestion
  • Watery or itchy eyes
  • Sneezing
  • Coughing
  • Itchy nose, roof of mouth or throat
  • Sinus pressure and facial pain
  • Swollen, blue-colored skin under the eyes
  • Decreased sense of smell or taste

Like millions of other people, you are suffering from fall allergies. Yes, fall allergies are a real thing. Contrary to popular belief, allergies are actually year-round, caused by different irritants. In fact, about 75% of people who suffer from spring allergies will also suffer from fall ones.

Ragweed, which can release its pollen through October, is the most common cause of fall allergies. The pollen is an ambitious little material that can travel through the wind for hundreds of miles. What this means is that even if there is no ragweed growing anywhere around you, you can still have a reaction to the pollen.

Mold spores are another common trigger for discomfort. Mold flourishes in damp or wet areas, and while you are aware of susceptible spots in your house, you probably don’t think about the ones outside. Problematic mold can exist in piles of wet leaves or rotting fruits and vegetables, such as those in your garden and in the carved Halloween pumpkin on your front porch.

Another fall allergy trigger is the return to school. Have you noticed that your child seems to be suffering from allergies more now after going back? Is this a coincidence or more in the line of “the dog ate my homework”? Believe it or not, the truth is that your child may actually be allergic to school, and this is something to sneeze at. Chances are that many of the classrooms have been closed up for the entire summer, and without proper ventilation and regular cleaning, mold and dust mites can build to harmful levels — especially in older buildings.  

There is good news, however. Even with fall allergies, you are not condemned to stay in your house all season feeling miserable, nor should you keep your child home from school. There are many over-the-counter medicines that may bring some relief, but if those don’t work, schedule a consultation with us. One of our knowledgeable physicians will take the time to sit down with you and discuss your symptoms and available treatment options, including Balloon Sinus Dilation. a non-invasive procedure that will put a permanent end to your sinus conditions. Balloon Sinus Dilation is available only at CT Sinus Center.

For more information on how CT Sinus Center can offer you permanent relief from allergies year-round, book your appointment by calling (203) 574-5997. Don’t let the charm of the fall season pass you by.