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Is it a cold or do I have allergies?

It is the time of year when fall allergies and colds tend to overlap. The symptoms of each can be similar and therefore can make it difficult to know how to treat what ails you.

“A cold generally is more of an upper viral infection that affects the nose and throat,” said Ed Neuzil, ARNP, PhD and owner of the Allergy, Sinus and Asthma Family Health Center in Central Florida. “My patients will tell me that they had a scratchy throat that has gotten better but now their head is stuffy and their nose is running but everything is clear. These are cold-like symptoms.”

Neuzil explains further the differences between cold symptoms and allergies in this video. He also explains when you should see a medical practitioner to get help.

Why does my nose itch each fall?

The news headlines and your nose are probably telling you what you already know. The fall ragweed season is upon us and many people are likely to suffer through it.

Symptoms may include itchy eyes and nose, a scratchy throat, frequent sneezing, and maybe a cough.

ragweed, fall allergies, sinus rinse

Fall allergy sufferers can often blame ragweed for their discomfort. Rinsing nasal passages regularly can help.

Visit your local drug store and you’ll see shelves stocked with antihistamines, a variety of saline sprays and more to help you get relief.

According to Ed Neuzil, ARNP, PhD and owner of the Allergy, Sinus and Asthma Family Health Center in Lady Lake, Florida, people who suffer to the point that the pollen is affecting their quality of life should meet with a medical professional to get relief.

But Neuzil also advises taking precautionary steps to avoid symptoms. It can be as simple as:

  • Keep windows and doors closed to keep out airborne pollutants.
  • If you spend a lot of time outdoors, remove your clothing, wash your face and even wash your hair to get rid of any pollen that may have gotten on you.
  • Install HEPA filters in your home. Found in most home improvement stores, they’ll help filter out pollen that gets into the air conditioning system.
  • Rinse your nose! Seriously. It’s the same as washing out anything else that has trapped dirt and other pollutants.

Some choose to use the ancient saline rinsing system called the “Neti Pot.” This natural therapy involves making a saline concoction that is poured through the nose and helps rinse out nasal passages. But there have been recent cases of people getting very ill from bacteria in the water so doctors recommend using distilled water in the Neti Pot.

However, Neuzil cautions Neti Pot and saline rinse users that the simple saline alone can lead to other sinus problems. If used too much it can dry out nasal passages and he suggests you consult with a practitioner if you use them frequently.

There are other methods, however. In fact, Neuzil developed a non-medicated saline nasal spray that is enhanced with essential oils which help moisturize nasal passages.

Whatever your allergy therapy of choice, it’s important that you don’t try to suffer through the season without getting appropriate relief.

Chlorine Warning Before You Try to Cool Off

As the temperatures rise across much of the nation, many may seek relief by diving into a pool. But experts warn swimmers to be aware of a potential trigger for other problems.

Some people have sensitivity to chlorine which is used to keep swimming pools clean.

Chlorine reactions may include itchy, red skin or even hives. According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, when immersed in the swimming pool, the chemical may cause inflammation in the lining of the sinuses and nasal passages.

chlorine, swimming, allergies, congestion

Chlorine, a chemical used to keep swimming pools clean, may trigger allergy-like symptoms when water gets into nasal passages.

Fungi and bacteria in the water, if inhaled, can lead to other infections.

“There is a possibility frequent swimming in chlorinated water or exposure to cleaning products containing chlorine may increase the risk of developing asthma or other respiratory allergies,” said Ed Neuzil, ARNP, PhD and owner of the Allergy, Sinus and Asthma Family Health Center.  “If a child exhibits allergic reactions to the chlorine, it’s a good idea for him or her to use nose clips.”

Neuzil recommends seeing a medical practitioner if you or your child suspect chlorine allergies or sensitivity. He say there may be a lot of underlying causes of your symptoms and the allergist may offer help so that you can continue to enjoy swimming.

Back to School Help for Kids with Asthma

For parents of children with asthma, the prospect of “back to school” can actually mean their kid will be right “back home.”

Asthma is the most common chronic illness resulting in school absence. In fact, children with asthma have three times the school absences as those without asthma.

  • 40% of children with asthma have sleep disturbances at least once a week.
  • A 2005 study showed kids with asthma may be at higher risk for poor school performance.
  • Parents’ loss of productivity from asthma-related school absences is estimated at $719 million ($285 per child with asthma) annually.
nasal spray, nasal spray addiction, saline rinse, sinus rinse, allergy spray,

A nasal spray with simple saline can eliminate the allergic triggers that may prompt asthma symptoms while a student is in school.

Asthma symptoms can be caused by allergens or irritants that are inhaled into the lungs resulting in difficulty breathing, wheezing, coughing, and tightness in the chest and, in severe cases, death.

Medications prescribed to help relieve symptoms can come with side effects that can also interfere with a child’s school performance.

With more than half of the nation’s 20 million cases related to allergic asthma, the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of American recommends avoiding allergens, such as dust, tobacco smoke, mold spores, pet dander, and cockroach feces.

Nasal irrigation therapy using a saline-based rinse can rid the nasal passages of the allergens that cause discomfort. While Neti pots and sinus rinses are effective, they can also be messy, inconvenient and unpleasant.

“A nasal spray with simple saline and essential oils is a good alternative,” said Ed Neuzil, ARNP, PhD, MSN, FAANP and owner of the Allergy, Sinus and Asthma Family Health Center in Lady Lake, Florida. “It can effectively rinse the allergic triggers and is easier and less messy to use. It fits in a backpack and, because it’s non-medicated, it can be used throughout the day without concern.”


Surprising Summer Allergy Triggers

Some allergy sufferers may think relief is on the horizon with the end of spring and the summer season ahead. But they may not be off the hook because of other allergy triggers that can really impact your summer fun.

One of the most common pollutants to watch out for is mold. Outdoor mold can be found almost anywhere including in soil, mulch and rotting wood. Mold spores increase as temperatures rise and reach their peak in July in warmer states.

Summer fruits and vegetables may also prompt an oral allergy syndrome in people who are susceptible to grass allergies. The symptom, which feels like a tingly feeling after biting a juicy piece of fruit or veggie, is a cross-reaction between similar proteins in certain fruits and vegetables and the allergy-causing grass, tree or weed pollens. Symptoms are often short-lived so you can either put up with the annoying feeling or see a medical practitioner if it becomes unbearable.

If camping is in your summer plans, you might want to avoid campfire smoke. Smoke is a common asthma trigger

smoke, allergies, nasal spray

Smoke from a campfire can irritate nasal passages. Have a nasal cleansing spray handy to help rid your nose of soot.

and may cause a dangerous asthma flare-up.

And while chlorine is not an allergen, the smell from pools can be an irritant and can cause allergy-like eye and nose symptoms.

We certainly do not want to discourage summer fun but being aware of potential allergic triggers – and avoiding them when possible – will help ensure your summer fun is uninterrupted

Saline Spray for Pollen Tsunami

allergies, sneezing, saline spray, non-medicated, snifflesAcross much of the nation, many are suffering from the effects of the “pollen tsunami.” Plants and trees are blooming spreading allergy-inducing particles all over.

When suffering allergies, the key to relief is often just clearing out your nasal passages. Nasal decongestant sprays have medication that will dry out your nasal passages and reduce the swelling that causes congestion. But repeated use of a spray with chemicals can cause damage.

Saline nasal sprays, which commonly consist of a salt water solution, will clean out the nasal airways, moisturize the dry passages and can help improve the function of the mucous membranes which actually help protect your body from germs. The ingredients in the saline spray mirrors the natural components in your body.

There are typically no side effects with nasal saline sprays and the sprays will not interact with medications you might be taking. You can use a nasal saline spray alone or as a supplement to medication in order to provide additional relief in between doses.

Saline nasal sprays can even be used by children. Of course, it’s important to discuss usage with your medical practitioner before beginning treatment.

Help for Enjoying Fall Colors

mold allergies, itchy nose, mold spores, nasal contaminant, fall allergies, sneezing, Ed Neuzil, watery eyes,We love the beautiful colors of fall (although living in Florida doesn’t give us much opportunity to view them). The reds, oranges and yellows of soon-to-be falling leaves accompanied by cooler temperatures are a welcome change of pace.

But while the crisp, colorful fall can be pleasing to the eye, it can wreak havoc on your sinuses.

“The problems especially arise when children play in the fallen leaves or grownups start raking them up,” said Ed Neuzil, PhD, MSN, ARNP, FAANP and owner of the Allergy, Sinus and Asthma Family Health Center in Lady Lake, Florida. “What many don’t know is that when you move the leaves around, you are potentially stirring up pollen and mold spores into the air. When inhaled by asthma and allergy sufferers those airborne pollutants can really cause discomfort.”

Neuzil recommends that you wear a NIOSH rated N95 mask which can be found at home improvement and office supply stores. The mask filters out 95% of airborne particles.

He also points out that fall allergy season can overlap with the start of the cold and flu season. Sometimes understanding what is causing your symptoms can be confusing.  Neuzil says “Itchiness and clear draining are sure signs of allergies; if the stuff coming out of your nose is discolored, that’s likely due to a cold.”

He says a fever may be associated with a cold and not allergies. Neuzil recommends going to see a medical practitioner if symptoms persist and to be sure you’re taking the right treatment for what ails you.