Pollen


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.


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.


How the Pollen Count Is Measured

Pollen

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.