Posts Tagged ‘seasonal allergies’

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.

 

 

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Year-round Seasonal Allergy Prep

seasonal allergies, sinus conditions, pollen counts, nasal irrigationWe know it’s coming every year, sometimes even two or three times, yet allergy season always seems to catch us off guard.

If only there was a way to minimize the annoying symptoms of seasonal allergies without much thought.

According to one Central Florida medical practitioner, there is.

“We know the best way to avoid the itchy, runny nose and sneezing associated with allergies is to avoid the irritants that cause them,” said Ed Neuzil, PhD, MSN, ARNP-BC, FAANP. “Because the likelihood of inhaling pollen, mold spores and dust in the spring and fall increases when certain offending plants bloom, cleaning out our nasal passages regularly can make a difference.”

Neuzil recommends that his patients use a non-medicated saline-based formula every day, throughout the year to keep nasal passages clean and healthy. He even developed an herbal-enhanced solution that helps to moisturize and soothe sinuses.

“It’s just like brushing your teeth every day for good hygiene and dental health,” notes Neuzil.  “Once you get in the habit of doing it every day, you don’t even think about it and it can absolutely make a difference.”

When the pollen levels are peaking, some people may need to resort to using medication to help with congestion but using the herbal enhanced saline spray in conjunction can even maximize the effectiveness of the medication because you’re getting rid of the allergic triggers.

“It’s important to know that over-the-counter allergy medications and sprays are meant to be used temporarily for maybe three or four days,” says Neuzil. “If you overuse them, you run the risk of becoming addicted to the medication and they can even do more harm than good.”

If your symptoms do persist, Neuzil recommends seeing a medical practitioner to determine whether you need allergy testing or other types of nasal therapy.

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

Soothing Sore Throats Caused by Allergies

Here in Florida, we are experiencing Chamber of Commerce weather with mild temperatures during the day and cooler at night, low humidity and little rain.

Some of us are actually giddy about what seems like a dramatic meteorological change for the better, until the suffering begins.

ragweed, pollen, airborne irritants, fall allergy season,

These pretty flowers, called Ragweed, can produce one billion pollen particles every day.

The ragweed season is already in full bloom in Florida due to our warmer temperatures; plus, fall usually brings an increase in mold spores after the warm, rainy summer.

While sniffling and sneezing are common symptoms of allergies, some sufferers experience throat irritation that can be painful and may feel like strep. There may not be other symptoms associated with this allergic outbreak, but it can be just as debilitating as the viral infection.

The main culprit in an allergy-induced sore throat is postnasal drip caused when sinus drainage flows down the throat triggering frequent episodes of throat clearing.  The increased drainage may be triggered from exposure to airborne allergens which, when inhaled, can cause a scratchy, raw feeling in the throat.

The most important thing to do when you start to experience symptoms is to remove yourself from the irritants as much as possible. Recognizing that it can be a difficult thing to do, Frances “Ed” Neuzil, ARNP, PhD and owner of the Allergy Sinus and Asthma Family Health Center in Lady Lake, Florida recommends other tactics for relief:

  • Use a saline based nasal spray to clean your nasal passages of the allergens and irritants that may be trapped in your sinuses.
  • Avoid dairy products at this time as they may have a tendency to thicken the nasal drainage.
  • Avoid hot or spicy foods as well as food higher in acid content such as fruits and tomato products.
  • Gargle with an antiseptic throat gargle; and, for irritation, an over the counter throat spray (check with your pharmacist for assistance) may reduce the painful irritated feeling.

While not dangerous or contagious, the allergy symptoms can be enough to keep someone home from school or work. Neuzil recommends seeing your medical practitioner if symptoms persist.

Do you take allergies seriously?

The combination of heat and summer rainstorms can be a recipe for irritation in the fall. Conditions are ripe for a fruitful ragweed season; in fact some areas in the south are dealing with a fresh crop of mold growing inside and outside the home.

It is not uncommon for people to suffer through the irritated sinuses and itchy eyes that plague allergy sufferers. There is good reason to take allergy symptoms seriously.itchy eyes, sneezing, allergy season, ragweed season, Ed Neuzil, sinus rinse, saline spray, natural allergy relief

  •  According to the Allergy, Sinus and Asthma Foundation of America, approximately 40 million Americans have indoor/outdoor allergies as their primary allergy. Those allergens may include tree, grass and weed pollen and mold spores.
  •  Allergies are the most frequently reported chronic condition in children, limiting activities for more than 40% of them.
  •  Allergies account for more than 17 million outpatient visits annually and seasonal allergies account for more than half of all those visits.
  •  The annual cost of allergies is estimated to be nearly $14.5 billion and is a major cause of work absenteeism among adults.

“Rather than choosing to just put up with the symptoms, allergy sufferers should take their condition seriously,” said Ed Neuzil, ARNP, PhD and owner of the Allergy, Sinus and Asthma Family Health Center in Lady Lake, Florida. “Take precautions to avoid the triggers and use a simple saline formula regularly to rinse the pollutants from your sinuses.”

Neuzil stresses,”If symptoms persist, you should see a medical practitioner to get help so that allergies do not continue to negatively impact the quality of your life.”

Eat to Stop the Sniffles

seasonal allergies, sniffles, itchy eyes, nasal congestion, food allergies,

Certain foods may influence symptoms of seasonal allergies.

People who suffer from seasonal allergies can almost set their clocks to when when their itchy eyes and stuffy noses will start due to blooming plants, trees and grasses. They will stock up on allergy medicine and saline spray in hopes of staving off irritating symptoms.

Studies have shown that a trip to the grocery store may also be in order for people with seasonal allergies.

“Certain foods have been shown to help alleviate some allergy symptoms,” said Ed Neuzil, ARNP, PhD and owner of the Allergy, Sinus and Asthma Family Health Center, in Lady Lake, Florida. “Sipping some tea or eating warm fluids is always good for breaking up congestion in your airways.”

Research has also shown eating fish with healthy omega-3 fatty acids and yogurt with probiotics may help ease symptoms. Similarly, Neuzil tells his patients to avoid certain foods which can exacerbate allergy symptoms.

“Some fruits and vegetables contain proteins that are similar to those in certain pollens which trigger allergic reactions” said Neuzil. “For example, if you’re allergic to ragweed, you may experience similar symptoms when you eat melons or tomatoes because their proteins mirror each other.”

For some people, drinking alcohol may cause nasal congestion so it may be a good idea to refrain from beer or wine if allergy season is your sniffle season. And some people with food allergies may experience a stuffy nose when they consume certain trigger foods.

If your allergies are affecting the quality of your life, consider speaking with a medical practitioner about being tested to potentially identify foods that may make you sneeze. Check out this Hometown Health TV video to learn more about the allergy testing process.

Surprising Summer Allergy Triggers

While much of the nation is suffering through the spring pollen season, expect the upcoming summer months to bring a new set of potential allergy triggers.

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.allergy symptoms, summer allergies, chlorine, mold spores, red eyes, irritated sinuses.

If camping is in your summer plans, you might want to avoid campfire smoke. Smoke is a common asthma trigger 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.