Do your sinuses flare up at the slightest exposure to pollen, dust or mold spores? It is likely due to an allergic reaction where the human immune system overreacts to a foreign substance that is eaten, inhaled, injected or touched.
The immune reaction may cause symptoms such as coughing, sneezing, itchy eyes, runny nose and a scratchy throat. In severe cases, inhaling these allergens can cause asthma attacks, difficulty breathing or worse.
If this diagnosis is familiar to you, there is a good possibility that one or both of your parents share the same problem.
According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, allergies have a genetic component. In fact, if only one parent has allergies of any type, the likelihood of each child having an allergy is 1 in 3. If both parents have allergies, the likelihood of the children having the allergies increases to 7 in 10.
“If your allergies are severe,” said Ed Neuzil, ARNP, MSN, PhD and founder of Dr. Neuzil’s Irrigator nasal cleansing spray. “Then you’ll want to visit your medical practitioner and try to determine what allergens prompt your discomfort. Once you find out, it will be important to try to avoid exposure to those pollutants as much as possible.”
What is that old saying? “A family that sticks together, sniffles together?”
When fall allergies come to mind, ragweed pollen is often labeled the culprit. Many people certainly are suffering from itchy noses, sneezing and watery eyes this season, but ragweed may not be the only offender.
“Mold is of big concern this time of year. Mold spores are prevalent in the wet, dead leaves that many people rake up in their yards,” says Ed Neuzil, ARNP, PhD and owner of the Allergy Sinus and Asthma Family Health Center in Central Florida. “Mold is not only a nasal or respiratory contaminant but it can also cause skin rashes to people who are allergic to the spores.”
According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, it is common for people to have mold allergies if they or other family members are allergic to other contaminants such as pollen or animal dander.
Mold spores are spread in a variety of ways and they easily grow in a number of damp environments such as your yard or even inside in the kitchen, bathroom or basement.
The symptoms of mold allergies are similar to those that come with hay fever but when inhaled in the lungs, mold spores can lead to asthma or other serious respiratory illnesses.
The methods for avoiding allergic reactions to mold are the same as during hay fever season.
- Stay inside.
- Take precautions to remove dampness in your home such as removing carpeting in the bathroom or turning on the exhaust fan.
- Clean sinks and tubs regularly to remove buildup that encourage fungi growth.
- Use a dehumidifier to remove moisture in the basement or other potentially damp rooms.
“Rinsing the nose after working outside will help get rid of the contaminants that may lead to allergic reactions,” encourages Neuzil.
A medical practitioner can help you determine if you have a mold allergies and then will discuss options to prevent and treat symptoms.
Recently, while attending a religious service, I sat next to a young woman who was really congested. She was seriously sniffing every 20 seconds. I felt bad for her discomfort while hoping whatever she had didn’t get passed on to me.
After a little while, I offered her the travel pack of tissues that I always carry. She was grateful and took them. I was taken aback, though, when she didn’t use them. Huh?
I can certainly understand not want to disrupt those around you by blowing your nose but she seemed miserable.
It made me wonder how humans even came up with the notion of blowing ones nose and is it really good for you.
The truth is that ignoring nasal symptoms such as congestion, sneezing, runny nose or thick nasal discharge can lead to other problems:
- Nasal congestion reduces the sense of smell.
- When you can’t breathe through your nose, you resort to mouth breathing which can increase the risk of mouth and throat infections. Mouth breathing also pulls all the pollution and airborne germs directly into the lungs.
- Breathing cold dry air into the lungs will make secretions thick, slows the cleaning cilia as well as the passage of oxygen into the blood stream.
So, yes, blowing your nose is important but there is a right and wrong way to do it. If you blow too hard, you’ll cause pressure and some mucus to build up in the sinus cavities. That may lead to further infection.
According to experts, the proper method is to blow one nostril at a time, gently. You should also use a saline nasal rinse to remove excess mucous.
If the congestion lingers for a long time or develops into something more, that’s the time to visit your medical practitioner for a consult.