Archive for the ‘rhinitis’ Category

Immunotherapy Insight

There are plenty of over-the-counter medications to help with allergy symptoms: antihistamines, decongestants, steroids and more.

However, continued use can lead to the drugs being less effective and, in some cases, can trigger significant side effects.

Allergy immunotherapy could be a long-term solution for people with chronic allergies such as allergic rhinitis, allergic asthma, allergic conjunctivitis or even stinging insect allergies.

“Much like a vaccine, immunotherapy more commonly known as allergy shots, involves receiving injections of a particular allergen or allergens over a period of time so that your body develops an increased tolerance of these allergens,” said Ed Neuzil, PhD, MSN, ARNP, FAANP.  “It requires a patient come into the practitioners office on a regular basis to receive the injections.”

Neuzil says that patients may, although uncommon to his practice experience redness, itching and swelling at the injection site or they may experience some sneezing or nasal congestion. But the reactions are typically not serious and are temporary.

“The process which includes the build-up phase when the allergen is increasingly added to the body and then the maintenance phase, may last a year or so,” said Neuzil. Then if the immunotherapy is successful, maintenance treatment can go on for another three to five years.

Neuzil suggests that you speak with your medical practitioner to determine whether you’re a candidate for immunotherapy.  You can watch this video which explains how practitioners determine which allergens a patient may be allergic to.

Relief from Rhinitis

Many people suffer from a sinus condition called Rhinitis. The sniffles and sinus pressure associated with it can truly affect one’s quality of life.

The causes and treatments of rhinitis was the topic of conversation on a recent eHealth Radio podcast. Board certified nurse practitioner Ed Neuzil shared helpful information for listeners. Click here to here the 10 minute interview:  ehealth radio network.

Addicted to nasal sprays

People who suffer from chronic sinus problems often will carry a bottle of nasal spray wherever they go. That’s because one spray in each nostril can help alleviate the congestion and discomfort that the condition brings.

Either by doctor’s direction or because they’ve found an over-the-counter product that works, sinus problem sufferers use chemical nasal sprays to get relief.

The chemicals have decongesting effects that help shrink the swollen nasal membranes by constricting the network of tiny blood vessels within your nose.

With frequent use, the user can actually build up a type of immunity to the chemicals in the sprays making them less effective. Scientists say it’s because the blood vessels in the nasal lining become tolerant to the decongestant.

When the spray doesn’t work as well, it could lead to overuse and make the user feel as if she’s addicted to the nasal spray. And worse, the frequent use can damage membranes and actually cause more discomfort.

It’s important to consult with your medical practitioner if you do find yourself using the nasal sprays on a more frequent basis. Of course, read the package instructions carefully and follow them. Ideally, you should limit use of the medicated nasal sprays to three or four days.

 

 

 

 

What you need to know about Allergy Medications

The news feed is filled articles from across the U.S. warning of the perils of this year’s spring allergy season and that it is already underway and may be the worst ever.

Partnered with that is the results of a new study from the National Institutes of Health that found allergy prevalence is the same across different regions of the United States meaning people prone to developing allergies will do so no matter where they live. (The study found a different result for children aged 1-5, but that’s for another blog.)

So with about 26 million Americans enduring chronic seasonal allergies, according to the National Center for Health Statistics, and the number of people with milder symptoms potentially reaching as high as 40 million, what’s a population to do?

“Many resort to medications—both over-the-counter and prescribed–to help cure what ails them,” said Ed Neuzil, ARNP, PhD and owner of the Allergy Sinus and Asthma Family Health Center in Lady Lake, Florida.  “It is important to know allergy drugs will not make your allergies go away. They may help alleviate symptoms associated with the various reactions people suffer with but you’ll still have allergies.”

Allergy medications come in the form of pills, liquids, nasal sprays, creams, inhalers and injections.

Corticosteroids helps to prevent the release of mediators triggered by the allergen expose thereby reducing symptom caused bynasal spray, nasal spray addiction, saline rinse, sinus rinse, allergy spray, this chemical reaction which can lead to nasal stuffiness, sneezing, and itchy, runny noses. Corticosteroids almost always require a prescription.

Antihistamines blocks histamine which is one of the mediators released by your immune system when you’ve been exposed to an allergic trigger. Antihistamines work best when taken before the allergic reaction to help ease symptoms. However, antihistamines may potentially cause drowsiness and general fatigue.

Decongestants come in both tablet and spray form. They can help with quick, temporary relief of stuffy noses experienced by many who suffer from seasonal allergies. Women who are pregnant, people with high blood pressure and possible cardiac conditions may want to check with a medical provider before taking a decongestant to alleviate symptoms.

“The challenge then becomes with these so-called extended allergy seasons is that people may increase their medication intake to be able to function and thus find themselves with another problem,” said Neuzil. “Overuse of the medications can trigger increased side effects and continued use of the over-the-counter decongestant nasal sprays may become “habit forming.”

Neuzil says it could eventually trigger a rebound congestion called “Rhinitis Medicamentosa” that can lead to detrimental health issues. Bottom line, he says, is that allergy sufferers need to try to do a better job of avoiding the allergic triggers.

Neuzil suggests trying natural approaches to symptom prevention such as staying indoors during peak pollen times, keeping your windows and door closed and using a good heap-filter on your heating/cooling systems.

He suggests using a nasal cleansing spray to rinse the nasal passages of various allergens and other types of inhaled pollutants. When outdoors and finished for the day, washing your clothes and showering off the allergens including the rinsing of the hair, eyes and nose once you’ve been exposed to the allergic triggers.

It’s certainly not easy to completely avoid allergic triggers but by taking these steps to reduce exposure, you could be developing good habits to help you through future allergy seasons, which according to experts, may only get worse.

Do you take allergies seriously?

The combination of heat and summer rainstorms can be a recipe for irritation in the fall. Conditions are ripe for a fruitful ragweed season; in fact some areas in the south are dealing with a fresh crop of mold growing inside and outside the home.

It is not uncommon for people to suffer through the irritated sinuses and itchy eyes that plague allergy sufferers. There is good reason to take allergy symptoms seriously.itchy eyes, sneezing, allergy season, ragweed season, Ed Neuzil, sinus rinse, saline spray, natural allergy relief

  •  According to the Allergy, Sinus and Asthma Foundation of America, approximately 40 million Americans have indoor/outdoor allergies as their primary allergy. Those allergens may include tree, grass and weed pollen and mold spores.
  •  Allergies are the most frequently reported chronic condition in children, limiting activities for more than 40% of them.
  •  Allergies account for more than 17 million outpatient visits annually and seasonal allergies account for more than half of all those visits.
  •  The annual cost of allergies is estimated to be nearly $14.5 billion and is a major cause of work absenteeism among adults.

“Rather than choosing to just put up with the symptoms, allergy sufferers should take their condition seriously,” said Ed Neuzil, ARNP, PhD and owner of the Allergy, Sinus and Asthma Family Health Center in Lady Lake, Florida. “Take precautions to avoid the triggers and use a simple saline formula regularly to rinse the pollutants from your sinuses.”

Neuzil stresses,”If symptoms persist, you should see a medical practitioner to get help so that allergies do not continue to negatively impact the quality of your life.”

How are you treating Allergic Rhinitis?

nasal spray, nasal spray addiction, saline rinse, sinus rinse, allergy spray, The first step to manage this condition is to avoid allergens that cause symptoms. For instance, if you are allergic to dust mites, it is important to take steps to prevent exposure to dust mites, such as frequently washing bed linens in hot water. The same is true for outdoor allergens. Limiting your exposure during times of high pollen and mold counts may help reduce symptoms.

Nasal corticosteroid sprays (i.e. Flonase® or Nasonex®) treat inflammation and reduce all symptoms of allergic rhinitis, including itching, sneezing, runny nose and stuffiness. Antihistamines (i.e. Benadryl®) in the form of liquid, pills or nasal sprays block histamine and may relieve itching, sneezing and runny nose. But they may not be as effective in reducing nasal stuffiness. Anti-leukotrienes (i.e. Singulair® or Accolate®) in pill form can also reduce the symptoms of allergic rhinitis.

Decongestant pills or nasal sprays can be used as needed if nasal stuffiness is not relieved with other medications. Decongestant nasal sprays should not be used for long periods of time because they can cause your congestion to return and worsen. In fact a new website, www.NoseSprayAddiction.com has helpful information for people who have become addicted to certain medicated nasal sprays.

Consider another alternative. Saline sinus rinses can bring relief to patients with chronic sinus or rhinitis problems without the use of medication.

If you suffer from chronic or acute sinus infections, sinus rinses can be helpful in removing and thinning out excessive mucus. If you have allergic rhinitis, these rinses can bring relief by removing allergens from the nostrils and sinuses.

Your medical practitioner may recommend allergy testing and if appropriate allergy shots if your symptoms are constant, if you do not want to take medications or feel that they are not enough, or if you want long-term control of your allergies with less need for medications. This treatment involves allergy testing to determine your allergic triggers and receiving injections periodically—as determined by your practitioner—over a period of three to five years.

Time to Call in the Expert for Allergy Relief?

You’ve been suffering through the sniffles, itchy eyes and sneezing for the same three-week period every year. Despite trying many over-the-counter medications and other therapies, nothing works.

If this describes you, it may be time to call in the expert.

A health care provider who has specialized training and experience to evaluate, diagnose and treat this symptoms may be exactly what you need. They can identify if your symptoms are triggered by allergies or another non-allergic trigger. Your health care provider will take a thorough health history followed by possible allergy testing that can help determine what specific allergen you may be sensitive to. The health care provider will determine whether skin testing, (a process where you may be exposed to “tiny” bite of allergen) or blood testing would be the most appropriate for you.

Once specific allergens are identified, your health care provider will work with you to develop a plan to avoid the allergens that trigger your symptoms. For example, if you are allergic to dust mites or indoor mold, you will want to take steps to reduce these allergens in your house as much as possible.

Once diagnosed, your provider may prescribe immunotherapy or allergy shots, a proven treatment approach providing long-term relief for many people suffering from allergic rhinitis.

Your provider might also recommend medications to decrease itchy eyes, sneezing, allergy season, ragweed season, Ed Neuzil, sinus rinse, saline spray, natural allergy reliefallergic rhinitis symptom which may include nasal corticosteroid sprays, antihistamine pills, nasal antihistamine sprays or decongestant pills. A complete list of medications used to treat allergies can be found in the AAAAI Drug Guide.

“It is important to begin taking allergy medications for seasonal allergies before tree pollen and other irritants are in the air each spring,” says Ed Neuzil, ARNP, PhD and owner of the Allergy, Sinus and Asthma Family Health Center in Lady Lake, Florida “If you start taking allergy medications before you first come into contact with spring allergens, these medications can help reduce the effects of histamine and other substances responsible for your allergy symptoms.”

Neuzil recommends checking the The National Allergy Bureau TM (NAB) for the most accurate and reliable pollen and mold levels across the U.S. in order to help across the U.S. in order to help determine when to start taking preventative steps.

 

Nothing to Sniff at: The Cost of Allergic Rhinitis

kids and allergies, allergic rhinitis, allergens, pollen season, sniffles,

Allergic rhinitis is the most common chronic condition in children.

If you have allergic rhinitis, your immune system mistakenly identifies a typically harmless substance as an intruder. This substance is called an allergen and your immune system responds to the allergen by releasing histamine and chemical mediators that typically cause symptoms in the nose, throat, eyes, ears, skin and roof of the mouth.

Allergic rhinitis can be triggered by outdoor pollutants such as pollen, dust, air pollution, smoke, etc. Often these irritants are prevalent seasonally. Common indoor allergens such as the dried skin flakes, urine and saliva found on pet dander, mold, droppings from dust mites and cockroach particles are also culprits.

Twenty to 40 million Americans are affected by allergic rhinitis, making it the sixth most prevalent chronic illness.

The peak prevalence of allergic rhinitis is observed in children and young adults. Prevalence estimates range from 10 to 30 percent of adults and up to 40 percent of children, making allergic rhinitis currently the most common chronic condition found in children.

Allergic rhinitis is responsible for at least $1.8 billion annually for the direct cost of physician visits and medication expenses, or nearly 2.5 percent of the $47 billion annual direct cost for respiratory treatment in the United States.

The estimated value of lost productivity to employers and society resulting from allergic rhinitis approaches nearly $3.8 billion annually. In the mid-1990s the resulting total annual cost for allergic rhinitis amounted to $5.6 billion.

 

Working out during allergy season

exercise, asthma, bronchorestriction, allergies, wheezing, pollutantsWarmer temperatures are welcome relief for people ready to move their exercise regime outdoors.

If you suffer from seasonal allergies or asthma, being outdoors can become unpleasant or may interfere with your ability to work out either recreationally or competitively.

Environmental substances such as pollen, dust, mold spores and air pollution can trigger symptoms such as sneezing, itchy eyes, post-nasal drip, and runny nose and, in extreme cases, hives, trouble breathing, cough and dizziness. Also, extremely dry air or cold temperatures can cause trouble breathing.

“People who often experience these symptoms may have exercise-induced bronchorestriction or EIB,” said Ed Neuzil, ARNP, PhD and owner of the Allergy Sinus and Asthma Family Health Center in Central Florida. “This happens when the tubes that bring air into and out of your lungs narrow with exercise, causing symptoms of asthma.”

Some people with EIB do not otherwise have asthma, and people with allergies may also have trouble breathing with exercise.

“It is the exposure to triggers that cause the discomfort,” says Neuzil. “So you should know what triggers your symptoms and then try to avoid them in order to not disrupt your exercise routine.”

Neuzil suggests the following:

  • Consult with an allergist prior to starting your exercise program to help determine what you may be causing your symptoms.
  • Take all allergy and asthma medications as prescribed.
  • Breathe through the nose as much as possible when exercising. The nasal passages have natural filters that will help block irritants from getting into your lungs.
  • Exercise indoors when pollen counts are high and conditions very dry or cold.
  • Always have an inhaler or other prescribed rescue medication with you in case you need it.
  • Know your early signs of symptoms so you can stop exercising before they progress to more serious ones.

Rinse for Runny Nose Relief

sniffles, sneezing, chronic sinus problems,  runny nose, nasal irrigationFor people who suffer with chronic sinus problems, this time of year is especially precarious.

The potential for a runny nose increases due to cold weather, exposure to colds and viruses as well as the spring pollen season beginning to flare up.

“Sinus problems are caused by a breakdown in the normal function of the nasal cavity which has a natural protective role in our bodies,” said Ed Neuzil, ARNP, PhD and owner of the Allergy, Sinus and Asthma Family Health Center in Lady Lake, Florida. “The mucous lining of the nasal cavity helps protect against infection from viruses and bacteria. When the mucous is inadequate, sinus symptoms can result.”

Neuzil believes using a cleansing saline spray regularly can provide long-lasting relief and can help in the prevention of nasal symptoms.

“Every day rinsing the nasal passages of the pollutants that trigger discomfort can provide long-term relief for sinus sufferers,” said Neuzil. “Most people bathe everyday for good hygiene and health. Cleaning your sinuses with that same consistency can also lead to a decrease in symptoms and reduced need for decongestants while improving quality of life.”

Some medical providers recommend using a Neti Pot or sinus rinse to effectively rid the nose of pollutants. These methods involve mixing a saline solution and pouring it through your sinus passages to rinse out irritants.

However, many people find the practice messy, inconvenient and unpleasant. This detours them from cleaning their nose on a consistent basis.

“A non-medicated saline spray versus a rinse can be just as effective and better tolerated,” said Neuzil. “There are even nasal sprays available with natural additives which can complement the therapy by moisturizing nasal passages providing even more relief. The trick is committing to the practice on a daily basis to provide more long-term benefits.”