Archive for October, 2013

Soothing Sore Throats Caused by Allergies

Here in Florida, we are experiencing Chamber of Commerce weather with mild temperatures during the day and cooler at night, low humidity and little rain.

Some of us are actually giddy about what seems like a dramatic meteorological change for the better, until the suffering begins.

ragweed, pollen, airborne irritants, fall allergy season,

These pretty flowers, called Ragweed, can produce one billion pollen particles every day.

The ragweed season is already in full bloom in Florida due to our warmer temperatures; plus, fall usually brings an increase in mold spores after the warm, rainy summer.

While sniffling and sneezing are common symptoms of allergies, some sufferers experience throat irritation that can be painful and may feel like strep. There may not be other symptoms associated with this allergic outbreak, but it can be just as debilitating as the viral infection.

The main culprit in an allergy-induced sore throat is postnasal drip caused when sinus drainage flows down the throat triggering frequent episodes of throat clearing.  The increased drainage may be triggered from exposure to airborne allergens which, when inhaled, can cause a scratchy, raw feeling in the throat.

The most important thing to do when you start to experience symptoms is to remove yourself from the irritants as much as possible. Recognizing that it can be a difficult thing to do, Frances “Ed” Neuzil, ARNP, PhD and owner of the Allergy Sinus and Asthma Family Health Center in Lady Lake, Florida recommends other tactics for relief:

  • Use a saline based nasal spray to clean your nasal passages of the allergens and irritants that may be trapped in your sinuses.
  • Avoid dairy products at this time as they may have a tendency to thicken the nasal drainage.
  • Avoid hot or spicy foods as well as food higher in acid content such as fruits and tomato products.
  • Gargle with an antiseptic throat gargle; and, for irritation, an over the counter throat spray (check with your pharmacist for assistance) may reduce the painful irritated feeling.

While not dangerous or contagious, the allergy symptoms can be enough to keep someone home from school or work. Neuzil recommends seeing your medical practitioner if symptoms persist.

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Could your favorite scented candle make you sick?

There’s something about a crisp fall day that inspires some to light a candle and fill the room with scents of pumpkin spice, apple cider and evergreen.

While a pleasant sensory experience, some may soon find themselves sneezing.

It would be nice to think a pumpkin pie was melted and shaped into a pillar of wax that leaves you with a warm, happy feeling once lit. But the truth is many scented candles are filled with chemicals and metals that create the good smells.

Medical practitioners are identifying more patients who have fragrance allergies or sensitivities that lead to discomfort.

allergy, fragrance, scented candles

Scented candles may smell good but the fragrances may cause allergy symptoms.

“Being near a burning, scented candle can cause allergic reactions such as sneezing, runny nose, watery eyes and even headaches,” said Ed Neuzil, ARNP, PhD and owner of the Allergy, Sinus and Asthma Family Health Center in Lady Lake, Florida. “In extreme cases, some people exhibit breathing difficulties and wheezing. Additionally, some people are sensitive to the soot released from the flame.”

Experts suspect that fragrance allergies are becoming more prominent because fragrances are more prevalent in products such as shampoos, lotions, cleaning supplies and cosmetics. They recommend the following tips to minimize candle soot pollution:

  • Because many scented and slow burning candles may contain metals, consumers should look to see if the core of the wick is shiny metal. If you see metal, do not burn, or check with the manufacturer.
  • When you do burn candles, keep the wicks cut short to one-quarter of an inch. A longer wick causes a larger flame and thus more soot.
  • Do not shake or tip candles because the candle can smoke and send soot into the air to land on walls, carpets and furniture.
  • Keep candles in places away from children and pets. Besides fire hazard, small children and animals may accidentally disturb a candle, causing it to smoke and release soot.
  • Refrain from burning scented or slow-burning candles that have additives. Look for candles, such as beeswax, that do not contain high levels of pollutants.