Archive for February, 2014

Dry earth, dry nose

The escalating drought crisis in California is causing concern besides the obvious lack of water. drought, allergies, pollen, low humidity, airborne pollutantsThe parched conditions may prompt other environmental changes that lead to discomfort for allergy sufferers.

 First, the warmer temperatures associated with the drought has prompted some pollen-producing plans to bloom early, dispensing their airborne allergens that trigger itchy eyes and runny noses.

And while some other plant-culprits may be withering due to the lack of rain, the potential for mold growth increases in the warm temperatures. Mold spores usually hidden on the ground dry out and, with a gust of wind, easily become airborne along with dust, dirt and other pollutants.

Inhaling any of these irritants can cause even the seemingly allergy-free to experience some sinus discomfort.

In arid areas with low humidity, the dry air can further dry out nasal passages which are actually designed to help protect the body from pollutants and germs. However, the nasal passages need some moisture in order to stay healthy and do their thing.

Medical practitioners recommend that you take a shower after coming indoors and wash your clothes. Leave windows closed and don’t hang wash out to dry.

Using a moisturizing nasal spray throughout the day can help soothe parched nasal passages. Dr. Neuzil’s Irrigator nasal cleansing spray includes natural essential oils that have moisturizing properties. Spraying it into your nose a few times a day can help avoid nasal passages from getting dried out and thus avoid discomfort.

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Building Up Allergies

The news that one of Norway’s Olympic athletes dropped out of competition due to allergies caught our attention.  We wouldn’t have expected that a man who spends his days on the ski slopes would be suddenly stricken with symptoms at what is now the most famous venue for his sport.

But Aksel Lund Svindal says he began to not feel well after arriving in Sochi and attributed it to a “dust” in the air. Doctor-prescribed allergy medicine to help Svindal also affected his performance.

 Prior to the Games’ start, the news media chattered about the Russians push to get host city Sochi ready for an influx of visitors. In fact, some journalists who arrived a few days before reported construction crews still working day and night to get new hotels and venues ready.construction, dust, allergies, chemicals, mold, Sochi, Olympics

 Construction can be a significant source of allergic triggers because it stirs up all sorts of pollutants including dust, mold spores and even chemicals that are used in the building process.

The fine, airborne particles can get into air ducts, on your shoes and clothes, and travel through open windows exposing people to triggers that can cause sinus discomfort and irritated eyes.

“Symptoms may include wheezing, sneezing, a runny nose and sore throat,” said Ed Neuzil, ARNP, PhD and owner of the Allergy, Sinus and Asthma Family Health Center in Lady Lake, Florida. “For constructions workers, it’s a real problem that can be remedied somewhat by wearing face masks while working and removing clothing and showering thoroughly after work.”

The same tactics should apply if you are near ongoing construction work. Neuzil suggests carrying a saline spray with you at all times so you can discreetly rinse nasal passages of any irritants you’ve inhaled. He created an herbal-enhanced nasal spray called Dr. Neuzil’s Irrigator which had natural essential oils that will also moisturize nasal passages while rinsing.

“It’s a good idea to have a saline spray with you wherever you go,” advises Neuzil. “Especially when traveling, it’s possible you’ll pass another city’s construction sites and expose yourself to a cloud of irritants.”

If rinsing doesn’t help, Neuzil recommends trying over-the-counter antihistamines to reduce symptoms; but should they persist, visit your medical practitioner for further assessment and suggestions on relief.

 

eCigarettes: A Smoking Gun?

This week’s announcement that CVS pharmacies will stop selling cigarettes is welcome news to us. Aside from undisputed concerns about smoking leading to death and disease, our resident allergy and sinus expert often lectures patients about the allergic reactions smokers and their nearby victims can experience.

smoking, asthma, allergies, vapor, The chemicals and noxious particles from smoking cigarettes causes inflammation and swelling of nasal passages resulting in sneezing, itchy sinuses, and runny, stuffy noses. For people with asthma, these allergic reactions can lead to more serious symptoms.

Some smokers trying to avoid the potential for disease may resort to the newly popular electronic cigarettes which purport to have fewer amounts of nicotine and chemicals among other benefits. The eCigarettes are battery operated and emit a vapor so the user simulates smoking.

But the Food and Drug Association is not so quick to sign off on this alternative, citing a need for more research. Because eCigarettes still deliver nicotine, flavor and other chemicals to the user, there is still potential for harm.

“The FDA has found that there are still emissions from the electronic cigarettes which contribute to second-hand smoke,” said Ed Neuzil, ARNP, PhD and owner of the Allergy, Sinus and Asthma Family Health Center in Lady Lake, Florida. “Second-hand smoke poses a dire risk for children who are much more likely to develop asthma and allergies when they inhale the chemicals in all cigarettes.”

While more research on eCigarettes is ongoing, Neuzil stresses the best way to avoid the health hazards is to stop smoking all together.