Posts Tagged ‘allergies’

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.

 

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.

Relief from Rhinitis

Many people suffer from a sinus condition called Rhinitis. The sniffles and sinus pressure associated with it can truly affect one’s quality of life.

The causes and treatments of rhinitis was the topic of conversation on a recent eHealth Radio podcast. Board certified nurse practitioner Ed Neuzil shared helpful information for listeners. Click here to here the 10 minute interview:  ehealth radio network.

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.

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.