Can I be having a Food Allergy?

 

Ah, the holidays!  Family… food… football… allergies!  That’s right.  The holiday season can be a dangerous time for people with food allergies – whether you are aware of the allergy or not.  And to compound the potential danger or discomfort, we tend to drop our guard during the holiday season festivities and, let’s be honest, eat things we wouldn’t normally eat in quantities we might not normally eat them.

food allergies, Anaphylaxis,

People with food allergies need to be careful about hidden foods on the holiday table.

Plus, who wants to insult the host by asking what the ingredients are in that holiday delicacy – even if it could put you or a loved one at risk?  The most common food allergies are egg, dairy, tree nut, peanut, soy, wheat and shellfish. By themselves, these ingredients can be very obvious.   But sometimes, they’re hidden in otherwise “safe” foods found at the holiday table.  So what exactly is a food allergy and how do you know if you have one?

Often times we think of a food allergy triggering something referred to as Anaphylaxis, a sudden and severe reaction involving two or more body systems. These symptoms can affect the skin (rash, hives, itching), the respiratory tract (tightness in the chest, wheezing or shortness of breath) or even gastrointestinal tract (stomach ache, pains or diarrhea). The symptoms may require a response by 911, emergency room evaluation and use of epinephrine.

What are some of the milder symptoms that you may experience? Some of the more common “healthy” food allergies are to peanuts, bananas, milk and strawberries. If you notice that after eating or drinking you experience any negative symptoms, such as a runny nose, nasal congestion, a quick accumulation of mucus in the throat or a post nasal drainage, you can suspect a food allergy. You may notice an itching of your skin with or without a rash.

Difficulty breathing, symptoms of asthma or even shortness of breath may be triggered by a food allergy. Food allergies can trigger stomach aches or pains with or without diarrhea which may cause people to think that it’s more of an irritable bowel disease. It’s important to note that Irritable Bowel Disease may become worse with food allergies and people with Irritable Bowel Disease may benefit form an allergy evaluation.

If you experience, these symptoms, you should contact your medical practitioner. And in case you were wondering, yes, you can grow into or out of food allergies and the danger or severity of reaction can also change over time.

 

What’s the right way to blow your nose?

Certain sounds are associated with seasons. You hear jingle bells in the winter, birds chirping in spring and kids yelling with delight when school is out marks that summer is here.

Aside from the rustle of falling leaves, you’ll also hear a lot more sniffles this time of year due to colds, the flu and fall allergies.

Of course, blowing the nose helps with this symptom. But is it always a good thing?

seasonal allergies, sinus conditions, pollen counts, nasal irrigation

There’s a right way and a wrong way to blow your nose.

The truth is that ignoring nasal symptoms such as congestion, sneezing, runny nose or thick nasal discharge can lead to other problems:

  • Nasal congestion reduces the sense of smell.
  • When you can’t breathe through your nose, you resort to mouth breathing which can increase the risk of mouth and throat infections. Mouth breathing also pulls all the pollution and airborne germs directly into the lungs.
  • Breathing cold dry air into the lungs will make secretions thick, slows the cleaning cilia as well as the passage of oxygen into the blood stream.

So, yes, blowing your nose is important but there is a right and wrong way to do it.  If you blow too hard, you’ll cause pressure and some mucus to build up in the sinus cavities. That may lead to further infection.

According to experts, the proper method is to blow one nostril at a time, gently. You should also use a saline nasal rinse to remove excess mucous.

If the congestion lingers for a long time or develops into something more, that’s the time to visit your medical practitioner for a consult.

 

 

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.

How can I help my child’s sniffles?

With children being back at school, there’s a good chance you’ll hear more sniffles. Colds are spread easily in a school child sniffles, allergies, coldssetting.

Plus, the fall season can bring a new host of allergens and with the kids spending more time outside, they’ll be exposed to allergic triggers.

Children who are suffering from nasal congestion should clean the nasal passages using a saline rinse. A Neti pot or similar sinus rinses can be effective although possibly messy and unpleasant for a youngster.

A saline nasal spray can be very effective and you can find products that have essential oils added to make the treatment more pleasant while moisturizing nasal passages.  The additional moisture will help preserve the natural protectants in your child’s nose.

Show your child how to safely and carefully insert the nasal spray bottle into her nose and to distribute the spray effectively.  Make sure she uses a tissue to wipe her nose afterwards and, of course, wash hands afterwards.

Non-medicated nasal saline sprays can be used frequently throughout the day to provide relief but consult with your pediatrician about how often it can be used.

And if you use a medicated treatment to alleviate symptoms, the non-medicated saline spray can be used in conjunction without fear of interaction.

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.

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.