Posts Tagged ‘sinus conditions’

How does a Nasal Decongestant Help?

When allergies strike, there are many options available for getting relief from the nasal congestion and itchy sinuses that cause discomfort. While the symptoms are similar to that of a cold, allergic rhinitis or hay fever can sometimes be a chronic problem that flares up throughout the year.

According to the American Academy of Asthma, Allergy & Immunology, allergic rhinitis affects between 10% and 30% of adults and as many as 40% of children.

Medical professionals may recommend medicated decongestants that come in the form of a tablet, liquid or even a nasal spray.

saline nasal spray, irritated sinuses,

A saline nasal spray can help soothe irritated sinuses in children without concern about side effects from medicine.

The spray bottle tips are inserted in the each nostril and liquid is dispensed with a pump or squeeze of the bottle.  The user then inhales the liquid and should soon feel their nasal passages opening up so that they can breathe better.

Non-medicated nasal saline sprays are often prescribed by medical professionals in order to cleanse the nasal passages of the dirt, pollen and irritants that cause discomfort. These rinses, usually comprised of purified water and salt, can be administered the same way and the irritants flushed from the nose providing relief.

Some saline nasal rinses have added natural ingredients which can help moisturize your sinuses or even provide a refreshing feeling. These saline sprays can be used without worry of addiction and can even be supplements to medication prescribed by your doctor.

The Air is Dry…so why is My Nose Running?

A comment to a recent blog post about distinguishing between a cold and allergies got us thinking.

During the winter months, people sometimes experience a runny nose. It could be due to extreme cold or from being inside in the heat. You might also experience in a dry environment such as in arid climate or on an airplane.

Why does this happen? We asked our resident expert, Ed Neuzil, ARNP, PhD, FAANP and owner of the Allergy Sinus and Asthma Family Health Center.

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Being in a dry or very cold environment can cause your nose to run.

Neuzil says it’s a defense mechanism of sorts:

“It’s a compensatory response by the body in response to the dry air,” said Neuzil. “The purpose of the nose in essence is a filter. It filters out dirt, pollen and other contaminants it also moisture and heat to the air before getting to the lungs.

Basically, the nose is producing increased fluid to do what it was designed to do.

“If you notice many times a person’s nose will drain excessively during cold weather. For the most part, it’s clear and can be very excessive. When a nose becomes too dry it can become very congested as well so the nose will make extra moisture to compensate.”

One way to counter the excessive moisture is to add some to your sinuses. A moisturizing saline spray can give your nose a little extra fluid to keep it healthy while potentially avoiding an “overflow.”

Coincidentally, Neuzil developed an herbal-enhanced, non-medicate nasal spray. Dr. Neuzil’s Irrigator nasal cleansing spray essential oils have natural moisturizing properties that help keep nasal passages healthy.

 

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.

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

Stop sneaking sniffles

Certain sounds are often associated with seasons. Birds chirping make you think of spring. Crunching leaves are a sure sign of fall. And the winter notification is, of course, a sniffle.

Whether being outside in the cold prompts a runny nose or the onset of a virus or sinus infection, just about everyone gets the sniffles this time of year.

No matter the cause, the symptoms of nasal congestion should be addressed.

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.

 

 

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.

Summer travel in your future? Protect your nose from dry air inflight

If airline travel is in your forecast, you’ll want to arm yourself with a nasal cleansing spray such to protect from the dry air when in

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Airplanes can be like flying petri dishes because people travel with germs that can be dispersed throughout the cabin.

flight.

The low humidity can dry out nasal passages causing discomfort, especially during takeoff and landing.

A 2004 edition of the Journal of Environmental Health Research reported that the higher incidence of colds reported by recent aircraft passengers may be due to a decline in their ability to resist infection while flying.

“Your nose has a thin layer of mucus that actually helps traps germs and irritants. The in-flight air dries out that protective layer making you more susceptible to discomfort or even colds and viruses,” said Ed Neuzil, Ph.D., ARNP and owner of The Allergy, Sinus & Asthma Family Health Center in Lady Lake, Fla. “Cleansing your nasal passages of debris or germs with a moisturizing nasal spray helps maintain the natural protectants your body provides.”

Nasal sprays with herbal ingredients such as menthol or eucalyptol may also help open up your sinuses and alleviate some of the pressure you feel during altitude changes.

 

Diving into a common summer allergy

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The chlorine in swimming pools may aggravate allergies and sinus conditions in some people.

A popular place for kids to spend their summer can actually make them sick.

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.

This can cause congestion or even infection which may ultimately keep your child out of the water for some time. That’s because the pressure changes from diving and swimming beneath the water can cause sinus pain and headaches.

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.

Allergy season from a Medical Practitioner’s Perspective

When you’re suffering with itchy eyes and nose, sniffles and what seems like a never-ending need to hack, you probably don’t care what other people are feeling.

itchy eyes, sneezing, allergy season, ragweed season, Ed Neuzil, sinus rinse, saline spray, natural allergy reliefBut you may take some solace in knowing medical practitioners who are seeing lots of allergy sufferers are sharing your pain. They’d like to see their patients breathing easy without fear of a sneezing attack.

“In our office, we are seeing many with a combination of nasal congestion and sinus pressure which often leads to sinus-triggered headaches along with frequent sneezing bouts,” said Ed Neuzil, ARNP, PhD and owner of the Allergy, Sinus and Asthma Family Health Center in Lady Lake, Florida. “It is especially concerning for people with asthma who may experience tightness to the chest, wheezing and dry ‘hacking’ type cough along with increased shortness of breath when active.”

Neuzil says the process for getting to this point is the same for just about everyone.

“The weather starts to become beautiful and people want to be outside more,” said Neuzil. “So they’ll open up their homes to air out the house when, in fact, they’re allowing the bad stuff to get in, such as pollen, dust and other allergic type triggers.”

What to do:

Neuzil says it’s best to reduce exposure by keeping windows and doors closed and using a good HEPA filter on your A/C system.

If you’ve been outdoors and finally coming in for the day, your clothes need to go into the washer, you need to take a shower before going to bed, rinsing out your hair, your nose and your eyes of the pollen and other contaminants you’ve been exposed to.

Remember the longer you’ve been exposed, the greater the change of triggering a reaction. Some people cleans their nasal passages with a saline based nasal spray while other use a flushing system to clear the nose of the pollutants they’ve inhaled.

“The biggest mistake is that many patients when feeling well will appropriately reduce their medication but when exposed to the higher pollen levels, will delay re-starting their medications hoping their symptoms will resolve on their own,” says Neuzil. “However, that may happen in some cases but there’s also the risk of symptoms escalating into an infection that over-the-counter allergy medication might have been able to resolve and prevent the infection from evolving.”

Is it a cold or 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.”

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A sinus headache could be symptomatic of allergies.

But the virus that caused your cold may predispose you to bacterial type of infections because of the sinus inflammation and mucus which is not draining appropriately.

“That creates a prime environment for the normal bacteria in our bodies to ‘colonize’ and lead to a bacterial infection,” says Neuzil.

Neuzil says it is common for people to run a fever when experiencing these symptoms. That’s a sure sign of a viral infection or cold.

“If your head is stuffed up and you have a headache but you don’t have fever, then you likely have allergies,” said Neuzil.