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Medical Allergies: Latex and Penicillin

LatexGoing to the doctor is supposed to make you feel better, but what happens when a trip to the office triggers an allergic reaction? Unfortunately, there are a number of medical supplies that  can do just that. In today’s blog, we are going to take a more in-depth look at two of those triggers: latex and penicillin.

Latex:

Natural latex is made from the sap of the rubber tree, Hevea brasiliensis. When a person has an allergic reaction to latex, it is because of the proteins in the sap. Since this allergy has become so common, natural rubber latex is often replaced with synthetic rubber, especially in gloves. However, the synthetic latex is made up of chemicals, which can trigger a whole other set of allergies.

According to The American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI): People who are at higher risk for developing a latex allergy include:

  • Health care workers and others who frequently wear latex gloves
  • People who have had multiple surgeries (for example, 10 or more), such as children with spina bifida
  • People who are often exposed to natural rubber latex, including rubber industry workers
  • People with other allergies, such as hay fever (allergic rhinitis) or allergy to certain foods

Symptoms include:

For more information and a helpful Latex Allergy Checklist, visit the American Latex Allergy Association site.

Penicillin:

The good news about this allergy is many people who think they have it actually don’t. Instead, they may be experiencing adverse reactions or side effects to the drug, which can be just as serious.

The symptoms of a penicillin allergy are just like those of a latex allergy with the addition of:

  • Fever
  • Itchy Eyes
  • Swelling of the lips,  tongue or face

Unfortunately, people with a penicillin allergy may unknowingly be allergic to other drugs as well. Mayo Clinic explains:

Penicillins belong to a class of antibacterial drugs called beta-lactams. Although the mechanisms of the drugs vary, generally they fight infections by attacking the walls of bacterial cells. In addition to penicillins, other beta-lactams more commonly associated with allergic reactions are a group called cephalosporins.

Penicillins include:

  • Amoxicillin
  • Ampicillin
  • Dicloxacillin
  • Oxacillin
  • Penicillin G
  • Penicillin V
  • Piperacillin
  • Ticarcillin

Cephalosporins include:

  • Cefaclor
  • Cefadroxil
  • Cefazolin
  • Cefdinir
  • Cefotetan
  • Cefprozil
  • Cefuroxime
  • Cephalexin

If you believe that you may be suffering from a latex or penicillin allergy, stop the guesswork and find out for sure. Our expert allergists at CT Sinus Center have the most up-to-date testing methods to determine whether or not you do have an allergy and exactly what it is. Once the diagnosis is in, we will work with you to develop a plan to keep you safe from any follow-up reactions.

Call 860-BALLOON to schedule an appointment at one of CT Sinus Center’s four conveniently-located offices today and be assured that a trip to the doctor will only end in health. Also watch for our blog “Medical Allergies Part 2: Other Medications and Adhesives.”

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


Am I Allergic to Milk?

AllergicOften times after drinking a tall glass of milk or eating a bowl of ice cream our bodies experience physical reactions that cause us discomfort. We immediately jump to the conclusion that we are allergic to dairy and worry about what that may mean for our health.

In reality, we probably are not allergic to dairy, or specifically milk, and our health is not in jeopardy. Although we may not feel great, we are likely experiencing intolerance. Intolerance to milk and milk products may be uncomfortable, but they are likely not severe. Actual allergic reactions, on the other hand, can be life-threatening

As it is easy to confuse an allergy with intolerance, it is important to understand the inner workings that separate the two. It is also important to know that when looking at a food’s ingredients, “milk” and “dairy” are not necessarily the same thing.

Allergies caused from cow’s milk range from mild to moderate to severe. The reaction occurs when the immune system mistakenly identifies the protein in milk as something harmful. Thus, causing a release of antibodies known as immunoglobulin E (IgE) to neutralize the allergy-causing food or substance.

Mayo Clinic lists the symptoms of a milk allergy as:

  • Hives
  • Wheezing
  • Vomiting
  • Signs and symptoms that may take more time to develop include:
  • Loose stools, which may contain blood
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Coughing or wheezing
  • Runny nose
  • Watery eyes
  • Itchy skin rash, often around the mouth
  • Colic, in babies

According to Mayo Clinic, milk allergies are amongst the most common of food allergies. They differ from person to person and usually occur a few minutes to a few hours after consumption. If you are allergic, you should avoid milk completely. Luckily, however, many kids outgrow a milk allergy.

Intolerance to milk, on the other hand, 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

If you experience discomfort brought on by milk or other dairy products it is important that you see a doctor in order to find out if you have intolerance or an allergy so you can start feeling better. 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. 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.

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


Tongue Swelling: Allergies or Illness

tongueThe tongue is typically about 10 centimeters long when measured from the back of the throat to the very tip. Most people know that it is a muscular organ responsible for chewing, swallowing, licking, tasting, breathing and articulating words. However, did you know that the color and swelling of the tongue can indicate a medical problem?

Angioedema (swelling in the deeper layers of skin and tissue) of the tongue can occur for a number of reasons:

If you suspect that the swelling is caused by allergies, our expert staff at CT Sinus Center can help you find relief. At your first appointment, we’ll talk to you about your symptoms and medical history. Next, through our patient-centered philosophy and up-to-date diagnostic tools, we will figure out if your reaction is caused by food allergies, insect stings, medication or something else entirely. Then, once we establish the cause, we’ll develop a treatment plan that is the perfect fit for your lifestyle.

So watch your mouth — especially your tongue — and if you notice swelling, call 860-BALLOON to schedule an appointment at one of CT Sinus Center’s four conveniently-located offices. (If it is an emergency, such as anaphylactic shock or trouble breathing, call 911 immediately.)

Read more blogs on sinus– and allergy-related conditions on the CT Sinus Center website.


How to Soothe a Sore Throat

sore throatSore throats are irritating and annoying, no matter how bad they are. The most common type of sore throat is called pharyngitis and usually occurs alongside a cold or flu virus. Allergies are another common cause of throat irritation.

A sore throat is pretty easy to diagnose and treat at home, although it is always a good idea to get a sore throat checked out by a physician in order to rule out bacterial infection or other medical conditions. The tell-tale symptoms of a sore throat include:

  • Pain in your throat
  • Itching in your throat
  • Increased pain when talking or swallowing
  • Inflamed tonsils or glands
  • Voice loss

For at-home treatments, you can try over-the-counter medications such as:

You can also try natural remedies:

  • Gargles:
    • Warm salt water
    • Fresh lemon juice, honey, hot water
    • Ginger, honey water
    • Cayenne pepper, water
  • Drinks:
    • Apple cider vinegar, honey, water
    • Herbal tea (chamomile, licorice root, marshmallow root, peppermint, clove)
  • Raw garlic (eaten, chewed, sucked on)

Unfortunately, even though these home remedies work well, they are only temporary, and if you suffer from allergies, you may be self-treating your sore throat much more often than you’d like. This can become inconvenient and expensive.

For a long-lasting solution, you’ll want to treat the cause of your pain: post nasal drip from allergies. At CT Sinus Center, we have the knowledge and means to do just that. Take the first step toward permanent relief by scheduling an appointment to speak with our expert physicians. When you come in,the first thing we’ll do is talk to you about your symptoms and listen closely to what you have to say. Next, we’ll use the most up-to-date diagnostic tools to find out exactly what is causing your suffering and then how we can end it. You may be eligible for Balloon Sinus Dilation, which will reshape your nasal passages, promoting draining and natural healing and consequently, relieving post nasal drip. Or perhaps you are a better candidate for Turbinate Reductions, in which the tissue in the nose that supports the nasal passages is decreased, quickly increasing airflow and reducing post nasal drip.

Call 860-BALLOON to schedule an appointment at one of our four conveniently-located offices, and let us permanently soothe your itchy, sore throat.

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


Conjunctivitis: Not Pretty in Pink (Eye)

ConjunctivitisIt’s not difficult to diagnose conjunctivitis (pink eye) since the primary symptom is a pink (red) coloring in the white of the eye or the inner eyelid. The other symptoms are pretty obvious too — the Center for Disease Control (CDC) lists them as:

  • Swelling of the conjunctiva (the thin layer that lines the white part of the eye and the inside of the eyelid) and/or eyelids
  • Increased tear production
  • Feeling like a foreign body is in the eye(s) or an urge to rub the eye(s)
  • Itching, irritation, and/or burning
  • Discharge (pus or mucus)
  • Crusting of eyelids or lashes, especially in the morning
  • Contact lenses that do not stay in place on the eye and/or feel uncomfortable

One of the most concerning things about pink eye is that it is highly contagious. Or is it? Well, yes, if it is caused by a virus or bacteria, pink eye is extremely contagious and requires medical treatment. However, there is a non-infectious type of pink eye caused by allergies.

Allergic conjunctivitis can occur as a reaction to the same triggers that cause seasonal allergies (pollen, mold, pet dander, dust). WebMD explains that the layer of skin that covers your eyes and the inside of your lids is the same as the skin that lines the inside of your nose. It makes sense, then, that both areas can be irritated by the same substances. It also makes sense that this type of pink eye usually appears in both eyes.

Fortunately, allergic conjunctivitis will usually go away on its own, but why suffer if you don’t have to. When you make an appointment at CT Sinus Center, our expert physicians can help you keep from seeing red when allergies hit. When you come in, we will discuss your symptoms at length in order to find clues as to what is triggering your condition. Next, we will perform thorough testing to identify the actual cause of your allergies and develop an individualized treatment plan to get you back to seeing clearly in no time.

As we discussed in our blog “Should You Drop Your Allergy Eye Medications?” there are several ways to treat eye allergies with medications such as antihistamines, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories, corticosteroid anti-inflammatories, decongestants, and mast cell stabilizers. Immunotherapy (shots or SLIT) is another effective way of treating allergic conjunctivitis.

Also, because eye allergies are usually a sign of seasonal allergies and are accompanied by the same symptoms (congestion, runny nose, cough, sinus pressure), you may be eligible for one of our two outpatient procedures that can put a permanent end to sinus suffering altogether:

  1. Balloon Sinus Dilation, which will reshape your nasal passages, promoting draining and natural healing
  2. Turbinate Reductions, in which the tissue in the nose that supports the nasal passages is decreased, decreasing the size of the turbinate and quickly increasing airflow

Isn’t it time you found relief? Call (860) BALLOON to make an appointment at one of our four conveniently-located offices today. We promise you that our allergy team will be a sight for sore eyes.

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


How to Handle Hives

HivesSometimes allergic reactions manifest as red, itchy or stinging bumps on top of the skin. The American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (ACAAI) states that 20 percent of people will experience these hives, or urticaria, at least once in their lives. The condition is easy to spot, but the ACAAI lists some things about hives that you should be aware of:

  • An actual hive usually lasts under 24 hours, but the reaction can last for weeks. This is because as the bumps fade, new ones can take their place.
  • Hives can appear on the skin anywhere.
  • During a reaction, it’s possible that not all hives will be the same shape or in the same area.
  • If you apply pressure to the bumps, they will turn from red to white (blanching).
  • The overall reaction is usually acute (lasting under 6 weeks), however may be chronic (lasting over 6 weeks).

Hives can be caused by a number of different things:  

  • Some food (especially peanuts, eggs, nuts and shellfish)
  • Pet dander
  • Pollen
  • Some plants, such as poison oak and poison ivy
  • Medications, such as antibiotics (especially penicillin and sulfa), aspirin and ibuprofen
  • Insect stings or bites
  • Physical stimuli, such as pressure, cold, heat, exercise or sun exposure
  • Latex
  • Blood transfusions
  • Bacterial infections, including urinary tract infections and strep throat
  • Viral infections, including the common cold, infectious mononucleosis and hepatitis

Fortunately, most cases of hives, while uncomfortable, pose no real health threat. However, chronic hives can be a sign of an immune disorder and can lead to health problems down the road. So if you are experiencing this reaction, you should get checked out. Also, people often incorrectly self-diagnose their condition as hives when it is really angioedema, a swelling under the skin. The symptoms of angioedema are a little different and include:

  • Swelling in the eyes or mouth
  • Swelling of the hands, feet or throat
  • Difficulty breathing, stomach cramps or chemosis (swelling of the lining of the eyes)

With either hives or angioedema, severe reactions need immediate medical attention.

And as we said above, even if you have mild symptoms, you should see an allergist to determine exactly what is causing your reaction — because why suffer if you don’t have to.

With state-of-the art diagnostic practices and tools, such as those used in food allergy testing, the expert physicians at CT Sinus Center will be able to pinpoint your triggers and devise an individual treatment plan. Whether that plan includes medications or avoidance practices, we will make sure that it keeps you safe and comfortable

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

And for all things sinus– and allergy-related, visit the CT Sinus Center website and blog.


Knocked Out by Allergies: Allergic Shiners

allergic shinerMost of us recognize dark circles under the eyes as a sign of exhaustion or a fight (you should see the other guy). However they are also a symptom of allergies. While the discoloration is harmless, having them or seeing them on someone you love, especially a child, can be very worrisome.

“Allergic shiners” occur when congestion in the sinus cavities causes vascular congestion in the small veins under the eyes. In other words, when the sinuses are blocked, nothing around your face drains well. Therefore where usually blood will flow freely through the capillaries under the eyes back to the heart, when there is congestion, the blood pools, creating dark circles and sometimes puffiness. Combine these symptoms with the itchy eyes that are often associated with allergies and the rubbing that accompanies the itch, and you have a recipe for very irritated-looking eyes.

How are allergic shiners different from black eyes?

In the allergic shiner, the blood pools in enlarged veins, where in the other kind caused by impact, there is actually bleeding under the skin due to broken or leaked veins or capillaries. Both types are very visible because the skin under your eyes is extremely thin. In addition, the older you get, the thinner the skin gets, making shiners of any kind seem more prominent.

How do I treat an allergic shiner?

The treatment for allergy-induced under eye circles is the same as for the other symptoms of allergic rhinitis because the goal is to unclog the sinus cavities, therefore releasing any blockage preventing the blood from flowing freely. These treatment methods include:

Or, you can make an appointment with us at CT Sinus Center to find out more information about how through our one-time, innovative procedures, we can put an end to your allergy suffering forever. When you come in, our expert physicians will take the time to sit down with you to discuss your symptoms and then proceed with thorough state-of-the art diagnostic tools to diagnose your condition. Next, they will come up with an individualized treatment plan that is the perfect match for you. You may be eligible for Balloon Sinus Dilation, which will reshape your nasal passages, effectively eliminating the chances of continued problems. Or perhaps Turbinate Reductions, in which the tissue in the nose that supports the nasal passages is decreased, decreasing the size of the turbinate and quickly increasing airflow, is your best bet.

Stop going round for round with your allergies. Call 860-BALLOON today to schedule an appointment at one of our four conveniently-located offices.

For more information on allergies and other sinus conditions, visit the CT Sinus Center 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.


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.


Recognizing Anaphylactic Shock

Anaphylactic Shock

Anaphylactic shock is a life-threatening allergic reaction that begins with our immune system. It occurs when our bodies release an antibody called Immunoglobulin E in an attempt to fight it off what it recognizes as a potentially dangerous allergen. This antibody triggers specific reactions in the body that translate to the common symptoms of anaphylactic symptoms. Mayo Clinic lists the symptoms as:

  • Wheezing or difficulty breathing or wheezing (due to a swollen tongue or throat)
  • Facial swelling
  • Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea
  • Dizziness or fainting
  • Weak and rapid pulse
  • Sensation of a lump in your throat
  • Shock

What causes anaphylactic shock?

Knowing what can trigger anaphylaxis is extremely important for you and everyone around you. These include:

  • Dairy (milk, cheese, eggs, etc.)
  • Nuts (including tree nuts)
  • Shellfish (lobster, crab, shrimp, etc.)
  • Seeds (sesame, etc.)
  • Stings (bee, wasp, etc.)
  • Medications (penicillin, etc.)

It is also important to mention that, according to Webmd, “exercise can trigger anaphylaxis if the activity occurs after eating allergy-provoking food” and “pollens and other inhaled allergens (allergy-causing substances) rarely cause anaphylaxis.”

How Do I Treat It?

If you or someone you know is experiencing anaphylactic shock, seek medical help immediately. Anyone who knows they have a serious allergy, should always carry epinephrine, usually in the form of an EpiPen. Epinephrine is adrenaline that, when injected through the outer thigh and into the muscle, can reverse anaphylaxis and keep the heart beating. Once the medication is administered, immediate medical care is still necessary.

Doctors are best informed on how to treat such maladies, and if you have had a reaction, even a milder one, it is important to discuss it with them. After that, it’s best to just avoid your allergens altogether if possible.

Because it is possible to develop a life-threatening allergy at any time in your life, it is imperative to understand what to do in a case of anaphylactic shock. Remember, though, that an allergy isn’t the end of the world as long as you educate yourself on the symptoms and take the correct precautionary steps in order keep safe.

For more information on all things sinus and allergy, visit the CT Sinus Center website and take a look at our blog.