Posts Tagged ‘allergic triggers’

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.

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

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.

Rinsing the Right Way

nasal spray, nasal spray addiction, saline rinse, sinus rinse, allergy spray,

Using a sterile saline nasal spray is a safe, effective way to rinse nasal passages of irritants that can cause sniffles, sneezing, and discomfort.

As the ragweed season intensifies across the nation, many allergy sufferers turn to an often recommended approach to avoiding the symptoms by rinsing their nasal passages.

Eliminating pollen, dust, pet dander or any other allergic trigger from your sinuses can be the best way to avoid itchy nose and eyes, sneezing and sinus congestion and pressure often associated with seasonal allergies.

Recently, the Food and Drug Administration issued a consumer alert about Neti Pots and sinus rinse kits that people use to clean out their nasal passages. The therapy works by filling the containers with saline and then pouring the water through the sinuses to get rid of pollutants.

The FDA’s is concerned about the potential for harmful bacteria to develop when people use non-filtered tap water or do not clean the containers effectively. Additionally, the FDA warns that some manufacturer instructions provide misleading or contradictory guidelines for using their products.

Medical practitioners like Ed Neuzil, PhD, MSN, ARNP-BC, FAANP and owner of an allergy, asthma and sinus practice in Central Florida often recommends nasal therapy for his patients but he is worried about suggesting the traditional sinus rinses.

“The reports of two recent deaths due to patients who used contaminated water in their sinus rinse containers is certainly concerning,” said Neuzil. “I’m hesitant to suggest these methods because of the potential risk. But I’ve also had much resistance from patients who don’t like the mess, discomfort and amount of time it takes to use the Neti Pot.”

Neuzil developed an easy-to-use, safe alternative to the traditional nasal therapy tools: an herbal-enhanced nasal cleansing spray that is made with a sterile saline-based solution with natural essential oils.

“There are so many potential risk factors with people mixing their own nasal rinse solutions,” said Neuzil. “Making the process convenient and safe is likely to encourage more allergy sufferers to be compliant with nasal therapy which will ultimately lead to a better quality of life for them.”

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.

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.

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.

Building Up Allergies

The news that one of Norway’s Olympic athletes dropped out of competition due to allergies caught our attention.  We wouldn’t have expected that a man who spends his days on the ski slopes would be suddenly stricken with symptoms at what is now the most famous venue for his sport.

But Aksel Lund Svindal says he began to not feel well after arriving in Sochi and attributed it to a “dust” in the air. Doctor-prescribed allergy medicine to help Svindal also affected his performance.

 Prior to the Games’ start, the news media chattered about the Russians push to get host city Sochi ready for an influx of visitors. In fact, some journalists who arrived a few days before reported construction crews still working day and night to get new hotels and venues ready.construction, dust, allergies, chemicals, mold, Sochi, Olympics

 Construction can be a significant source of allergic triggers because it stirs up all sorts of pollutants including dust, mold spores and even chemicals that are used in the building process.

The fine, airborne particles can get into air ducts, on your shoes and clothes, and travel through open windows exposing people to triggers that can cause sinus discomfort and irritated eyes.

“Symptoms may include wheezing, sneezing, a runny nose and sore throat,” said Ed Neuzil, ARNP, PhD and owner of the Allergy, Sinus and Asthma Family Health Center in Lady Lake, Florida. “For constructions workers, it’s a real problem that can be remedied somewhat by wearing face masks while working and removing clothing and showering thoroughly after work.”

The same tactics should apply if you are near ongoing construction work. Neuzil suggests carrying a saline spray with you at all times so you can discreetly rinse nasal passages of any irritants you’ve inhaled. He created an herbal-enhanced nasal spray called Dr. Neuzil’s Irrigator which had natural essential oils that will also moisturize nasal passages while rinsing.

“It’s a good idea to have a saline spray with you wherever you go,” advises Neuzil. “Especially when traveling, it’s possible you’ll pass another city’s construction sites and expose yourself to a cloud of irritants.”

If rinsing doesn’t help, Neuzil recommends trying over-the-counter antihistamines to reduce symptoms; but should they persist, visit your medical practitioner for further assessment and suggestions on relief.

 

eCigarettes: A Smoking Gun?

This week’s announcement that CVS pharmacies will stop selling cigarettes is welcome news to us. Aside from undisputed concerns about smoking leading to death and disease, our resident allergy and sinus expert often lectures patients about the allergic reactions smokers and their nearby victims can experience.

smoking, asthma, allergies, vapor, The chemicals and noxious particles from smoking cigarettes causes inflammation and swelling of nasal passages resulting in sneezing, itchy sinuses, and runny, stuffy noses. For people with asthma, these allergic reactions can lead to more serious symptoms.

Some smokers trying to avoid the potential for disease may resort to the newly popular electronic cigarettes which purport to have fewer amounts of nicotine and chemicals among other benefits. The eCigarettes are battery operated and emit a vapor so the user simulates smoking.

But the Food and Drug Association is not so quick to sign off on this alternative, citing a need for more research. Because eCigarettes still deliver nicotine, flavor and other chemicals to the user, there is still potential for harm.

“The FDA has found that there are still emissions from the electronic cigarettes which contribute to second-hand smoke,” said Ed Neuzil, ARNP, PhD and owner of the Allergy, Sinus and Asthma Family Health Center in Lady Lake, Florida. “Second-hand smoke poses a dire risk for children who are much more likely to develop asthma and allergies when they inhale the chemicals in all cigarettes.”

While more research on eCigarettes is ongoing, Neuzil stresses the best way to avoid the health hazards is to stop smoking all together.