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Watch for Winter Allergies

Many across the country are bracing for a massive winter storm that will force them indoors for some time; but they may be indoor allergens, winter weather, exposing themselves to indoor allergens that can lead to itchy noses and eyes and nasal congestion.

Central heating circulates warm air throughout the home but also blows dust, dust mites and pet dander which can trigger irritation. A lit fireplace makes for a warm, cozy room but can also release smoke and pollutants into the air.

A still-displayed Christmas tree can be a culprit as mold spores on the pine needs may be circulated, especially when the tree is moved about on its way to disposal. Mold spores are especially dangerous for asthmatics and can trigger allergic reactions.

And while residents in the northern and Midwestern states may be envious of those of us in the South, they may turn a lighter outdoor allergens, seasonal allergies, warmer weathershade of green knowing that the seasonal allergies are kicking into high gear outside due to the warmer weather.

Ed Neuzil, ARNP, PhD and owner of the Allergy, Sinus and Asthma Family Health Center in Central Florida offers advice in this video to help stay sniffle free which can be helpful no matter which climate you live in.

Did you Plan for the Holidays?

The holidays are filled with plans. We make plans to shop for gifts, see friends and family, hopefully take time off from work and

Christmas tree allergies, mold, conifer trees, fragrance allergies, sniffles, sneezing

Mold spores may be the other “gifts” found under your Christmas tree.

school and even anticipate how we’ll welcome in 2014.

But we often don’t consider how getting sick can ruin all of our plans. By taking preventative measures, a healthy, happy holiday season is more likely.

If travel is in your holiday forecast, you’ll want to pack items that help you stay healthy.

A saline spray helps moisturize your nasal passages when you’re on an airplane or experiencing cold temperatures. Moisturized sinuses can help support the natural germ filters in our noses. The saline spray will also rinse irritants from nasal passages which can contribute to congestion and itchy noses.

Anticipate your allergies.

Does a festive holiday setting make you sniffle? Some conifer trees carry mold spores that trigger allergic reactions or even asthma.  Additionally, dust can accumulate on ornaments that were stored during the year and, if not wiped well before being placed on the tree, can get airborne and into your nose.

Other holiday traditions such as a roaring fire in the fireplace and holiday parties can expose you to sinus troubles. Smoke from the fire can cause irritation for those who are allergic and can be especially concerning for people with asthma.

Since holiday parties often include getting dressed up, it’s not uncommon for party-goers to spray perfume or cologne, to which many people can be sensitive. Combine those aromas with scented candles added for a festive atmosphere and you have a recipe for seasonal sniffles.

Hopefully this doesn’t persuade you to stay at home in order to avoid the potential for not feeling well. Just being aware of these possible triggers which can lead to illness, and planning for them, will help ensure you holiday is merry, indeed.

 

 

The Rainbow in your Nose

To many, especially this time of year, the thought of mucus brings images of sniffles, sneezing, dirty tissues and fears of germs.

Made up of salt, cells, water and mucin, Mucus is a thick slimy, usually clear-colored fluid, which the body produces to lubricate and protect your nasal passages. An adult produces about four cups of mucus each day from the nose and sinus cavities alone.

Mucus is present in our bodies whether we are sick or healthy and actually has a beneficial role in our wellness:congestion, cilia, saline nasal rinse, blow nose, mucous, sinuses, nasal congestion, mouth breathing, sniffles
• It makes it easier to swallow by moistening food,
• Mucus moisturizes air when we inhale and lubricates nasal passages,
• It protects our lungs from harmful bacteria and helps get rid of foreign particles from the body.
Without a normal amount of mucus in our bodies, we wouldn’t function properly.

So how do you know what’s “normal?” A change in mucus color is usually a sign of a health problem or infection developing in the body.

White Mucus. Clear is good but any change to white or cloudy indicates a possible health problem. The whitish color may be caused from certain foods, such as dairy products, viral conditions or even GERD (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease).

Yellow Mucus maybe a sign that the body is fighting off a virus or sinus infection.

Green Mucus may indicate that a person has a bacterial type infection. Green mucus tends to be thick and can lead to nasal congestion, sinus pressure and headaches. In an effort to rid our bodies of the infection we’re programmed to produce more mucus when something is wrong. The extra mucus drips down the back of the throat triggering irritation and coughing. It’s a good idea to see your medical practitioner if green mucus persists so that an appropriate treatment can be prescribed.

Reddish Brown Mucus often occurs from an irritation to the sinus lining which causes it to become inflamed and bleed and appear brownish in color. Smoking and consuming a lot of alcoholic drinks can damage the lining and cause bleeding as well. Also, being in a sandy or highly-polluted environment can cause the mucus in your nose to become darker due to dirt particles that become trapped in the mucus when you inhale.

Excessive mucus can be a sign that something is going on. Typically, allergy sufferers will experience runny noses with clear mucus. Use of a nasal spray/rinse can help keep the nasal passages clear and moisturized and will result in an overall good healthy nose.

Is it a cold or 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.”

allergies, cold, viruses, lethargic, coughing, sneezing, seasonal allergies, allergic triggers, sinus headache

A sinus headache could be symptomatic of allergies.

But the virus that caused your cold may predispose you to bacterial type of infections because of the sinus inflammation and mucus which is not draining appropriately.

“That creates a prime environment for the normal bacteria in our bodies to ‘colonize’ and lead to a bacterial infection,” says Neuzil.

Neuzil says it is common for people to run a fever when experiencing these symptoms. That’s a sure sign of a viral infection or cold.

“If your head is stuffed up and you have a headache but you don’t have fever, then you likely have allergies,” said Neuzil.

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.

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.”

Dealing with Sinusitis

In the last couple of weeks, I’ve come across several people who have been suffering from, or cared for someone suffering from a “summer cold.”

When the weather is warm and inviting and vacations are planned, the last thing you want is to be is sick in bed with nasal congestion, headaches and fever.

The danger of a simple cold is that it can develop into the more serious and uncomfortable Sinusitis which is a swelling of the nasal passages.

Infection or other triggers can cause your sinuses to inflame causing a stuffy nose and pain. It may also lead to postnasal drip which can irritate the back of the throat.

While many things can cause sinusitis, the disease generally falls into two categories. Acute or Chronic.

Acute sinusitis is more common and generally the result of a viral or bacterial infection. Cold and flu-like symptoms usually persist for a few weeks and are often treated with painkillers, decongestants, nasal sprays and sometimes antibiotics.

Chronic sinusitis is diagnosed when an infection lasts 12 weeks or longer and may even last months if not properly treated. Sufferers often experience loss of smell, along with nasal discharge and halitosis.

“One of the first lines of defense should be use of a nasal spray or rinse to help clean out your nasal passages,” said Ed Neuzil, ARNP, PhD and founder of Dr. Neuzil’s Irrigator nasal cleansing spray. “Your medical practitioner may recommend a medicated spray which will help reduce inflammation but there are natural properties that can help as well.”

Essential oils such as eucalyptol and pine oil are known to be anti-inflammatory and will soothe swollen tissue.

“If you do use an over-the-counter nasal decongestant, follow the medications instructions carefully to limit use after three days,” encourages Neuzil. “If your symptoms persist, you should call your health care provider to avoid the condition from worsening.”

Fires Can Fuel Smoke Allergies

smoke inhalation, sinusitis, sinus irritation, Dr. Neuzil's Irrigator, saline rinseSummertime brings an increased risk for wildfires in parts of the United States. Firefighters in western states are already battling blazes while others regions are on high alert for potential flare-ups.

Loss of life and property are the greatest concerns for areas of immediate threat but the effects of wildfires can be far-reaching especially for people who suffer from smoke allergies and asthma.

Dry, windy conditions help spread the smoke over hundreds of miles and carry pollutants that cause sinus and respiratory irritation. Consider that the smoke may contain chemicals from man-made materials which increase the risk for people susceptible to adverse reactions.

The wind may also carry pollen which further contributes to discomfort and can cause serious breathing issues.

Doctors stress the importance of staying indoors when smoke is heavy in your area. If that is not possible, consider wearing a mask.

Once exposed to smoke, it is important to wash your hair and clothes as soon as possible as remnants will remain. Also use a sinus rinse to get rid of any airborne pollutants you have inhaled that could be trapped in your nasal passages.

Sorting through Symptoms. Is it a Cold or Allergies?

allergies, cold, viruses, lethargic, coughing, sneezing, seasonal allergies, allergic triggersPeople usually associate a stuffy nose, sneezing and itchy eyes as the sign allergy season is here. They are the most common reactions associated with allergies.

However, some experience other symptoms which noticeably impact the quality of life but sufferers may not attribute them to allergies.

“A scratchy irritated throat, a dry hacking cough, feeling lethargic or unmotivated and even being unable to perform certain tasks can be related to a person experiencing allergy-type symptoms,” said Ed Neuzil, ARNP, PhD and owner of the Allergy Sinus and Asthma Family Health Center in Lady Lake, Florida. “Often those patients will assume they have a cold and treat their symptoms as such when, in fact, they should be addressing what allergies they may have.”

According to Neuzil, the trick is determining what is triggering your symptoms and then treating it with appropriate therapies which may include antihistamines, nasal steroids, decongestants, immunotherapy or even natural approaches.

He says that if you experience a “cold” the same time every year that could be a clue that you are allergic to something in your environment.

Not diagnosing your potential for allergies can have real costs.  According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, allergies is the 5th leading chronic disease and a major cause of work absenteeism and “presenteeism” (coming to work when you’re not feeling well and being unproductive). It results in nearly four million missed or lost workdays each year, resulting in a total cost of more than $700 million in total lost productivity.

Natural Relief from Flu Misery

Many Americans are already suffering from the impact of an early flu season by either fighting the symptoms or battling to keep from getting sick. A natural saline spray is an important to have on hand to provide relief and protection.

When seeing patients at his own allergy, sinus and asthma practice in Central Florida, Ed Neuzil, ARNP, PhD and developer of Dr. Neuzil’s Irrigator nasal cleansing spray encourages patients to use a nasal rinse with natural essential oils to:

Central Florida allergist, Ed Neuzil, nasal saline spray, sinus rinse, nasal irrigation, congestion

Ed Neuzil, ARNP, PhD and owner of a Central Florida allergy, sinus and asthma clinic encourages patients to use a nasal saline spray to rinse pollutants from the nose.

  • Reduce congestion and cough associated with thick nasal mucus and post nasal drainage;
  • Soothe irritated sinuses;
  • Moisturize nasal passages thereby preserving natural protectants in our noses.

“Think of the saline spray as irrigating out the bad stuff that can lead to discomfort,” said Neuzil. “When the mucous is gone and the sinus irritation improved, the patient feels better. A sinus wash is especially good for children because it is safe and non-irritating.”

Dr. Neuzil’s Irrigator is approved for children age four and up and has the Parent Tested, Parent Approved Seal of Approval. It comes in an easy-to-use spray bottle so relief is at hand when you need it, unlike other sinus rinses that are messy and require mixing.

Neuzil encourages his patients to regularly rinse their nose with the herbal-enhanced saline spray even when they are not sick, as a preventative measure against illness.

  • It will rinse out dust, pollen, pet dander and other potential allergic triggers which cause sinus irritation and often lead to congestion, cough, itchy eyes, etc.
  • The spray will moisturize nasal passages thereby preserving the cilia or tiny hairs in the nose which trap airborne germs and irritants.
  • Saline sprays will help open up nasal passages so patients breathe easier throughout the day.