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Natural ways to Open Up Sinuses

The sun is bright and weather is warm but still people are suffering with sniffles and nasal congestion due to the so called “pollen vortex.”

essential_oilsThe congestion, caused by swelling of nasal tissue that has been irritated by pollen, dust, mold and other allergens, can be extremely uncomfortable.

Doctors recommend clearing the nasal passages of irritants and to help decrease nasal congestion.  This is best done with some sort of a normal saline formulation which can be purchased in pharmacies or natural health stores. Using too much salt can cause an excessive dryness to the nasal tissue and possibly increasing the risk of nasal bleeding, too little can cause the water to be absorbed and increasing congestion. That is why a normal saline mix is preferred.

Certain essential oils can be nose openers. Think about the vapor rub that your mom put on your chest when you sick as a child. Menthol or eucalyptol essential oils can be effective at opening nasal passages and leaving you feeling refreshed.

In previous times, put a few drops of eucalyptol or menthol essential oil in a bowl of hot water and breathe in the vapors was a common practice, however the risk of burning to the face and eyes was a deterrent. Even better today is to try a saline spray that has essential oils added to it, such as Dr. Neuzil’s Irrigator.

The oils have an additional benefit by moisturizing the nasal passages that may become “dried out” after using an over-the-counter decongestant or hypertonic nasal spray or nasal flush.

“A lack of moisture in your nose can cause other problems,” said Ed Neuzil, ARNP, PhD and owner of the Allergy, Sinus and Asthma Family Health Center in Central Florida. “Ideally, you want your nasal passages to be moist without having a runny nose.”

 

 

 

White House Report Impacts your Nose

A new White House report on climate change is not good news for your nose. The National Climate Assessment predicts an increase in “extreme weather conditions” due to global warning.

The “wild weather” predicted by top scientists and technical experts who have studied climate change over the last four years calculated impacts in regions across the United States that will contribute to environmental conditions that especially affect one’s sinuses.

In the Northeast, Southeast and Great Plains heavy rains are predicted. The extreme precipitation will likely cause flooding. The heavy rain is most concerning as it can create an ideal environment for mold growth. Mold spores are a common allergic trigger causing sinus discomfort.

Excessive heat and drought in the Northeast, Southwest and Great Plains can lead to dry conditions (when it’s not raining) making it easier for dust and pollen to become airborne and inhaled.

Coastal areas are increasingly vulnerable to higher sea levels and storm surges and flooding which, again, could lead to mold problems if structures are impacted.

Allergy sufferers have been noticing extended seasons of discomfort as climate change has persisted over the past several years. According to scientists, it’s only going to get worse.

Itchy skin? You might blame the Spring

Frequently heard complaints of itchy eyes and sinuses due to seasonal allergies are common this time of year. But what many might not realize is that their allergic reactions to pollen might affect other parts of the body.

allergic reactions, pollen, hives, antihistamine, skin irritation

In addition to itchy noses and eyes, hay fever sufferers may experience hives.

One symptom of hay fever that gets little attention is skin irritation. Some allergy sufferers may get hives or itchy, red welts on their skin after exposure to pollen or other allergens. The red swelling can occur on your face or around your hands, feet and throat.

In addition to the rash, some may find puffiness and dark circles appear around the eyes, called “allergic shiners.” Children who constantly scratch or rub their nose vigorously, also known as the “allergic salute,” may develop a crease in their nose or an “allergic crease.”

Gardening lovers might want to take precautions because touching flowers and plants their allergic to may cause a breakout of multiple skin reactions. Wearing long sleeve shirts and gloves can provide some protection against this direct contact.

“An allergy symptom is basically your body reacting to something foreign. If you’re allergic to pollen, the body will find ways to fight off the irritant in ways, unfortunately, that can be quite uncomfortable,” said Ed Neuzil, ARNP, PhD and owner of the Allergy, Sinus and Asthma Family Health Center in Lady Lake, Florida. “People who have itchy, annoying skin conditions, such as atopic dermatitis, may find their skin irritations become worse during the hay fever season.”

Neuzil adds that some fruits and vegetables which have similar pollen proteins to the outdoor offenders can even cause itchiness and irritation in the mouth when consumed. They include oranges, tomatoes, melons and figs.  Usually reactions happen when you eat the food fresh or raw.

Of course, the best way to avoid the skin reactions is to avoid exposure.

If you do experience a skin rash due to allergies, Neuzil recommends cleaning the area of exposure and taking an antihistamine. He also suggests avoiding direct sun light and wearing tight fighting clothes which can irritate the skin.

For natural relief, apply a cold milk compress to the irritated area for up to 15 minutes at a time or soak in a lukewarm (not hot) oatmeal bath (unless allergic to oatmeal). The cooler the water, the better the effect.

 

 

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.

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.

Additional Concern for Chronic Congestion

The annoying nasal congestion you are experiencing may be a problem not just in your head, but in your chest.

Studies over the last 10 plus years have looked at the effects of treatment of allergic rhinitis on asthma.

It has been hypothesized that asthma and allergic rhinitis are both manifestations of a single inflammatory process present throughout the airway and that control of the inflammatory response associated with allergic rhinitis may help to reduce inflammation throughout the airway and improve control of asthma.

A study as far back as 2003 looked at the link between allergic rhinitis and asthma. Their investigations found that among those individuals with asthma and allergic rhinitis, treatment for allergic rhinitis was associated with a decrease in the risk of asthma-related events by one-third to one-half compared with persons who did not receive treatment for this disorder.

A 2010 study showed that having chronic stuffiness and runny nose may cause an immune system response that can lead to serious asthma symptoms. That link appeared to be worse in patients whose asthma symptoms varied including wheezing, coughing, difficulty breathing and chest tightness.

“Chronic rhinitis is a very common problem and can lead to serious symptoms for people with asthma,” said Ed Neuzil, ARNP, PhD and owner of the Allergy, Sinus and Asthma Family Health Center in Lady Lake, Florida. “It’s important that you visit your medical practitioner if congestion and runny nose persist so you can better manage the potential for asthma.”

It is very important to try to avoid those triggers that lead to nasal symptoms such as allergens, dust and other airborne pollutants. Neuzil suggests that if you even suspect you’ve been exposed, to cleanse your nasal passages with a saline based formula to get rid of the triggers.

There are a variety of sinus rinses available but Neuzil’s suggests having a non-medicated saline spray handy so you can rinse as needed. Plus, he says using a nasal cleansing spray will help open up clogged passages alleviating some of the rhinitis symptoms.

 

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.