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.

6 Spring Cleaning Tips For Allergy Sufferers

CleaningSpring is just around the corner, and you know what that means: spring cleaning. Love it or hate it, it’s a seasonal ritual that does wonders for both your health and your state of mind. But if you suffer from allergies, spring cleaning can be a devil in disguise.

Are we saying that you shouldn’t spring clean? No (sorry); it’s actually very important. What we are saying is that when it comes to this task, there are precautions that you should be taking so that you aren’t actually making your allergies worse. Let’s look at some things that can trigger an allergy attack.

  1. Opening windows. What is one of the first things you do when the weather gets warmer? You open the windows. Unfortunately, this is literally inviting the allergens in. To freshen up rooms while keeping the windows closed, use an air purifier or a diffuser with essential oils. If you absolutely have to open the windows, make sure the pollen count is low.
  2. Dusting. During the winter months, because people spend so much time inside, dust can build up. When you start moving things around, cleaning under, behind, between, etc., the more dust you kick up, the more your allergies will kick in. Wear a mask while cleaning and do a little at a time if your symptoms are acting up. The same goes for when you vacuum. Your best bet, allergies or not, is to purchase a vacuum cleaner with a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter that you keep clean.
  3. Bringing out the spring wardrobe. If you tend to put your warm-weather clothes away for the colder seasons and do the “closet switch-out” as soon as the temperature hits 50, wash your clothes before you wear them. Over the months, dust and mold can settle in your garments, which will trigger your allergies.
  4. Letting the dogs out. You may not want to roll around in the fresh growing grass or flower garden, but Fido may, and that gives allergens a free ride in. Also, with the warmer weather, your pet will probably want to go outside more, which means that you’ll want to give him more frequent baths. To make things worse, Fido will be shedding, which adds even more dander to the mix.
  5. Removing mold. Now is the time to inspect spots, inside and out, that may be harboring mold — from your deck and patio furniture to the corners of your garage to the tiles in the bathroom. Even walls can harbor mold. So as you go big with the cleaning, don’t forget all the little corners and crevices where allergens may be hiding. Wear a mask and rubber gloves for further protection.
  6. Using cleaning products. It’s no secret that cleaning products use harsh chemicals and that many people have allergic reactions to them. Be careful with what you are using because not only will the products trigger symptoms while you’re using them, but also well after as the chemicals stick around. For a useful guide on allergy-friendly cleaning products, visit “Home Cleaning Tips for Allergy Sufferers” on the Everyday Health website.

Not sure what is causing your symptoms or looking for relief from them once and for all? Make an appointment at CT Sinus Center today and see what our expert physicians can do for you. When you come in, we’ll sit down and discuss your symptoms before we start a series of diagnostic procedures to figure out exactly what is triggering your allergies. Once we get answers, we’ll develop a treatment plan that is right for your specific lifestyle.

Now are we telling you that once you find relief you no longer have to spring clean? Again, no, sorry; but at least you will feel much more comfortable while you do it.

Call 860-BALLOON today and make your appointment at one of our four conveniently-located offices and add your sinus cavities to your cleaning list.

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 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.

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.

Avoiding Food Allergies: Tricks for Treats


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.)