Posts Tagged ‘sniffles’

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.

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.

 

 

 

Could your favorite scented candle make you sick?

There’s something about a crisp fall day that inspires some to light a candle and fill the room with scents of pumpkin spice, apple cider and evergreen.

While a pleasant sensory experience, some may soon find themselves sneezing.

It would be nice to think a pumpkin pie was melted and shaped into a pillar of wax that leaves you with a warm, happy feeling once lit. But the truth is many scented candles are filled with chemicals and metals that create the good smells.

Medical practitioners are identifying more patients who have fragrance allergies or sensitivities that lead to discomfort.

allergy, fragrance, scented candles

Scented candles may smell good but the fragrances may cause allergy symptoms.

“Being near a burning, scented candle can cause allergic reactions such as sneezing, runny nose, watery eyes and even headaches,” said Ed Neuzil, ARNP, PhD and owner of the Allergy, Sinus and Asthma Family Health Center in Lady Lake, Florida. “In extreme cases, some people exhibit breathing difficulties and wheezing. Additionally, some people are sensitive to the soot released from the flame.”

Experts suspect that fragrance allergies are becoming more prominent because fragrances are more prevalent in products such as shampoos, lotions, cleaning supplies and cosmetics. They recommend the following tips to minimize candle soot pollution:

  • Because many scented and slow burning candles may contain metals, consumers should look to see if the core of the wick is shiny metal. If you see metal, do not burn, or check with the manufacturer.
  • When you do burn candles, keep the wicks cut short to one-quarter of an inch. A longer wick causes a larger flame and thus more soot.
  • Do not shake or tip candles because the candle can smoke and send soot into the air to land on walls, carpets and furniture.
  • Keep candles in places away from children and pets. Besides fire hazard, small children and animals may accidentally disturb a candle, causing it to smoke and release soot.
  • Refrain from burning scented or slow-burning candles that have additives. Look for candles, such as beeswax, that do not contain high levels of pollutants.

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.

Time to Call in the Expert for Allergy Relief?

You’ve been suffering through the sniffles, itchy eyes and sneezing for the same three-week period every year. Despite trying many over-the-counter medications and other therapies, nothing works.

If this describes you, it may be time to call in the expert.

A health care provider who has specialized training and experience to evaluate, diagnose and treat this symptoms may be exactly what you need. They can identify if your symptoms are triggered by allergies or another non-allergic trigger. Your health care provider will take a thorough health history followed by possible allergy testing that can help determine what specific allergen you may be sensitive to. The health care provider will determine whether skin testing, (a process where you may be exposed to “tiny” bite of allergen) or blood testing would be the most appropriate for you.

Once specific allergens are identified, your health care provider will work with you to develop a plan to avoid the allergens that trigger your symptoms. For example, if you are allergic to dust mites or indoor mold, you will want to take steps to reduce these allergens in your house as much as possible.

Once diagnosed, your provider may prescribe immunotherapy or allergy shots, a proven treatment approach providing long-term relief for many people suffering from allergic rhinitis.

Your provider might also recommend medications to decrease itchy eyes, sneezing, allergy season, ragweed season, Ed Neuzil, sinus rinse, saline spray, natural allergy reliefallergic rhinitis symptom which may include nasal corticosteroid sprays, antihistamine pills, nasal antihistamine sprays or decongestant pills. A complete list of medications used to treat allergies can be found in the AAAAI Drug Guide.

“It is important to begin taking allergy medications for seasonal allergies before tree pollen and other irritants are in the air each spring,” says Ed Neuzil, ARNP, PhD and owner of the Allergy, Sinus and Asthma Family Health Center in Lady Lake, Florida “If you start taking allergy medications before you first come into contact with spring allergens, these medications can help reduce the effects of histamine and other substances responsible for your allergy symptoms.”

Neuzil recommends checking the The National Allergy Bureau TM (NAB) for the most accurate and reliable pollen and mold levels across the U.S. in order to help across the U.S. in order to help determine when to start taking preventative steps.

 

Working out during allergy season

exercise, asthma, bronchorestriction, allergies, wheezing, pollutantsWarmer temperatures are welcome relief for people ready to move their exercise regime outdoors.

If you suffer from seasonal allergies or asthma, being outdoors can become unpleasant or may interfere with your ability to work out either recreationally or competitively.

Environmental substances such as pollen, dust, mold spores and air pollution can trigger symptoms such as sneezing, itchy eyes, post-nasal drip, and runny nose and, in extreme cases, hives, trouble breathing, cough and dizziness. Also, extremely dry air or cold temperatures can cause trouble breathing.

“People who often experience these symptoms may have exercise-induced bronchorestriction or EIB,” said Ed Neuzil, ARNP, PhD and owner of the Allergy Sinus and Asthma Family Health Center in Central Florida. “This happens when the tubes that bring air into and out of your lungs narrow with exercise, causing symptoms of asthma.”

Some people with EIB do not otherwise have asthma, and people with allergies may also have trouble breathing with exercise.

“It is the exposure to triggers that cause the discomfort,” says Neuzil. “So you should know what triggers your symptoms and then try to avoid them in order to not disrupt your exercise routine.”

Neuzil suggests the following:

  • Consult with an allergist prior to starting your exercise program to help determine what you may be causing your symptoms.
  • Take all allergy and asthma medications as prescribed.
  • Breathe through the nose as much as possible when exercising. The nasal passages have natural filters that will help block irritants from getting into your lungs.
  • Exercise indoors when pollen counts are high and conditions very dry or cold.
  • Always have an inhaler or other prescribed rescue medication with you in case you need it.
  • Know your early signs of symptoms so you can stop exercising before they progress to more serious ones.