Posts Tagged ‘allergens’

What are grass allergies?

During warm weather, our dog likes to spend time sitting in the grass under a shade tree. Sometimes, she’ll be allergies, grass pollenoutside for hours. We suspect she loves it because often she’ll stare blankly at us when we try to coax her indoors.

Once inside, however, the licking begins. Our dog is likely allergic to grass pollen. Seasonal allergies are common in pets but symptoms flare as skin irritation instead of the sneezing and itchy, watery eyes that humans experience.

Grass allergy season is strongest in late spring and summer. The pollen can be spread by wind and when the lawn is mowed. One challenge with grass is that airborne pollen from other plants can fall onto blades of grass and slide into the ground where it can stick to shoes or paws and be brought into the house.

If you or your child plays sports outside in the grass, you’re likely to get stuck with something irritating that could make you sneeze. And the skin irritation that animals experience? Humans can react that way as well. Some people will break out in hives and, in rare cases, can even have an anaphylactic reaction.

“Grass is hard to avoid so it’s important to recognize the allergy and be prepared for symptoms,” says Ed Neuzil, Jr., ARNP-BC, PhD, FAANP and owner of the Allergy,

Sinus and Asthma Family Health Center in Lady Lake, Fla. “The best way to stay symptom-free is to avoid exposure and stay inside. However, an over-the-counter anti-histamine can provide relief if you so start to experience a runny nose, itchy eyes or skin irritation.”

Neuzil also suggested taking off your shoes once in the house so you don’t track it throughout and also consider washing your clothes and hair once inside to rinse out any irritants that may stick to you. And your pets? Wash their paws, too.

 

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.

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.

Common Holiday Allergies

christmas tree, tree pollen, allergies, sniffles.

The holidays can often be filled with allergic triggers that lead to sniffles.

You may be miserable this holiday season but not necessarily because of stress or visiting family.

According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, many people experience sniffling, itchy eyes and nose, and shortness of breath due to a Christmas tree allergy.

Some conifer trees carry mold spores that trigger allergic reactions or even asthma.

If you and your family prefer a real tree over an artificial one, then try putting the tree in the garage or an enclosed porch for several days until it dries. Give it a good shake outside before bringing it in to decorate.

For many, it’s post-holiday annual tradition to store away holiday decorations. Be sure to wipe everything well as you unpack items from storage before displaying the decorations in your home so dust won’t irritate your sinuses.

We traditionally associate certain fragrances with the holidays and will use artificial sprays and candles to contribute to the holiday spirit. But those strong smells can also trigger sneezing and sniffles so you might want to tone them down a little, especially if your holiday guests seem uncomfortable.

Of course, eliminating exposure to these potential triggers is the best way to avoid allergic reactions, but that’s not very festive. Good saline rinses used after exposure airborne pollutants will help get rid of the triggers in your nose.

Using an herbal-enhanced nasal spray before you are potentially exposed to the airborne irritants at a holiday party will even help protect your sinuses by moisturizing passages so that you can focus on holiday cheer instead of holiday achoo.

The little sleep disruptor

Many parents are now trying to get their kids back onto the regular “school sleeping schedule.” After a summer of late nights and lax schedules, this transition time is important so a child gets a good night’s sleep.

We know sleep is essential for good performance a.k.a. “doing well in school.” But did you know that one source of anti-sleep could be residing in your child’s bed?

allergy triggers, dust mites, asthma, indoor allergens

Dust mite allergens are the most common cause of allergy and asthma triggers.

Dust mites are miniscule insects that leave droppings to which many people are allergic.  They enjoy warm temperatures, eat dead skin from pets and humans, and burrow in sofas, beds and even stuffed animals. Believe it or not but we shed enough skin daily to feed a million dust mites.

Dust mite allergy sufferers can experience congestion, sneezing and for people with asthma, wheezing and difficulty breathing. These symptoms can make it difficult to get sleep soundly.

The best way to prevent dust mite allergy symptoms is to avoid exposure:

  • Put airtight, plastic dust-mite covers on pillows, mattresses and box springs.
  • Use pillows filled with polyester instead of feathers.
  • Wash bedding once a week in hot water and dry it in the dryer.
  • Vacuum carpets weekly and wipe up bare floors to get rid of dust.

There are some over the counter medications that help diminish the symptoms but do not treat the problem. Evaluation by your medical provider may help guide you in choosing the right medications and, in some cases, referral to a specialist who is trained in evaluating and treating allergies may be needed.

Allergy testing is used to help identify if an allergy exist and immunotherapy may be used to help stimulate your body’s immune system in developing anti-bodies to help protect against the allergy may be necessary.

One promising bit of news is that researchers are on the cusp of developing a vaccine that can combat dust-mite allergies. The University of Iowa scientists have had good success with this immunity-approach in lab animals. Here’s hoping tests on the new vaccine continue to go well for human consumption.