Find out what causes allergies and how you can get them under control.
Anyone who has allergies deals with a lot of those same annoying symptoms: the constant sneezing, the red itchy eyes, and the runny nose. Of course, not everyone understands that their symptoms could be due to allergies. What are allergies, and how are they managed? Should you treat your allergies on your own or turn to an ENT doctor?
What is an allergy?
Did you know that allergies are one of the most common long-term disorders people deal with? When exposed to a certain allergen, your body tells you that this allergen is harmful and then goes to work to attack it. This means that your immune system kicks into overdrive and produces antibodies known as immunoglobulin E. An allergic reaction is your body’s natural inclination to overreact to this allergen.
There are many things to which you could be allergic, including,
- Pet dander
Allergy symptoms can range from mild to more severe and even life-threatening. If you suspect that your symptoms are due to allergies, an ENT doctor can quickly diagnose and create a treatment plan that will get you feeling better fast.
Allergy Treatment Options
The treatment you receive will depend on the type of allergy you have and the severity of your symptoms. You’ll be happy to hear that many allergy sufferers find relief through simple medications. Those with very mild symptoms may be able to get away with over-the-counter antihistamines or decongestants (to fight nasal congestion).
Your ENT doctor may also prescribe more powerful antihistamines or nasal sprays if your symptoms are more moderate or severe. In some cases, a long-term allergy sufferer may finally choose to get allergy shots to significantly lessen the body’s response to a specific allergen.
Of course, there are also non-medicinal approaches to reducing your exposure to the offending allergen, and an otolaryngologist can offer great tips to reduce allergy exposure at home. Examples include bathing your trusty pet once a week and using allergy-proof bedding.
Don’t let allergies affect your daily life and the activities you love. If you find yourself staying indoors or avoiding things that make you happy for your allergies, it’s time you turn to an ENT doctor for treatment options.
Wondering if your symptoms could be caused by an underlying, undetected allergy?
Allergies can happen to anyone and they can occur all year round. These days, it’s particularly easy to brush off symptoms as a cold or sinus infection when in actuality you could have an allergy. If you suspect that you might have an allergy, a visit to an ENT doctor can provide you with the diagnosis and treatment plan you need.
You Have These Unexplainable Symptoms
Do you often feel like you’re dealing with headaches, a stuffy nose, dry cough or itchy skin? While these symptoms don’t necessarily mean that you have allergies if you are experiencing several of these symptoms for long periods you may want to turn to an allergist. If you have symptoms that keep coming and going you may want to speak with an ENT doctor who can easily diagnose your allergies.
You Notice a Recurring or Itchy Rash
Another common sign of an allergy is an irritated or itchy rash on the body. You may notice that it gets worse when exposed to the allergen (e.g. certain food or medications). If you are dealing with a rash that appears during certain times of the year or for weeks on end, this could be a sign of an allergy and it’s worth turning to a doctor to investigate further. If you notice swelling of the face or you develop hives (itchy welts) these are also common signs of a skin allergy.
You Think You Have a Sinus Infection…
But it keeps coming back or doesn’t seem to go away. If you feel like you’re dealing with cold symptoms or a sinus infection on the regular, it might not be any of these issues but rather allergies. Sometimes allergies can be misdiagnosed as a sinus infection or cold. If you find that the medications you were prescribed by a doctor aren’t working, this is yet another sign that you could have a bad case of allergies. If you also find yourself dealing with upper respiratory infections during certain times of the year, it could be allergies.
You Feel Exhausted
While there are many causes of fatigue and exhaustion, if you are feeling fatigued while also dealing with any of the symptoms above this could be another sign of an undetected allergy. This is because the immune system releases histamine, which causes an inflammatory response. This inflammatory response can lead to weird symptoms such as fatigue or body aches.
If you are experiencing allergy symptoms, turning to an ENT doctor will give you the answers you need to figure out how to properly manage your symptoms. You don’t have to do it alone and over-the-counter medications are often a Band-Aid instead of a solution.
You May Be Able to Treat it Yourself
If you are dealing with acute sinusitis you may be able to manage your symptoms on your own with saline nasal sprays, over-the-counter pain relievers and decongestants. If your sinus infection is due to allergies, you may be able to make simple lifestyle changes that can improve your allergies, which in turn can improve your infection. Other at-home sinusitis treatment options include,
- Drinking lots of water to flush out toxins
- Using a humidifier in your bedroom
- Applying warm compresses to the face
- Using a neti pot to flush out bacteria and germs from the sinuses
- Getting lots of rest
- Stocking up on vitamin C
- You aren’t sure if your symptoms are due to a sinus infection or something else
- Your symptoms are accompanied by a fever that lasts more than 3 days
- Your symptoms persist for more than 10 days
- Your symptoms are getting worse
- Your symptoms return
First and foremost, we need to determine what’s causing your infection and whether you’re dealing with an acute or chronic case. Acute cases may be treated with prescription-strength steroid and nasal sprays or oral allergy medications, while chronic sinusitis may require more intensive treatments. Chronic sinus infections may be caused by nasal polyps, a deviated septum or allergies, and it’s important to figure out the cause before we create a treatment plan. Chronic sinusitis is often treated with,
- Nasal, oral or injectable corticosteroids
- Medications used to shrink nasal polyps
- Immunotherapy (aka allergy shots)
- Balloon sinuplasty, a procedure that opens up blocked sinuses (an alternative to sinus surgery)
- Sinus surgery
What is an auricular hematoma?
Trauma to the ear, whether through an injury or blow to the head, can cause blood to collect within the cartilage of the outer ear, which also causes the cartilage and tissue to separate. As a result, the outer ear and its cartilage no longer receive blood flow, which causes the tissue to die off.
What causes an auricular hematoma?
We often see auricular hematomas in individuals who participate in contact sports such as boxing, martial arts, wrestling, and rugby. Of course, playing sports isn’t the only cause of an auricular hematoma. ENT doctors also see this issue after a bad fall, a severe car accident, or even after getting an ear pierced.
How do I know that I have one?
If you’ve just experienced a blow to the ear or side of the face and you are experiencing bruising, pain, swelling, or a deformity of the earlobe, this is a sign of an auricular hematoma. It’s important to seek immediate treatment from an ENT specialist who can drain the excess blood and prevent infection, tissue death, and cauliflower ear.
How is an auricular hematoma treated?
To prevent further complications from an auricular hematoma, your ENT doctor will need to drain the area. Local anesthesia will be administered to the area to numb it before a small incision is made to drain the blood. Then the area is rinsed with saline and a bandage is placed over the area. Antibiotic ointment may also be prescribed by your doctor to prevent infection.
How can you prevent an auricular hematoma?
If you play contact sports such as wrestling or boxing, the most important thing you can do is wear the proper protection and headgear to prevent an injury or traumatic blow to the head from causing an auricular hematoma.
If you experience blunt-force trauma to the ear it’s important that you schedule an immediate evaluation with an ENT specialist to make sure the problem is properly treated to prevent future complications such as “cauliflower ear."
Turn Down the Heat
Okay, so we know this isn’t going to be a popular tip for many people, but if you crank up the heat in your house this could be drying out your nose and leading to nasal congestion, nosebleeds, and other uncomfortable symptoms. If indoor heat is the culprit, we simply suggest turning down the temperature in the house and then wrapping up in more layers to compensate so you can still feel perfectly warm but without the dry, painful nose.
Apply Petroleum Jelly
This is another simple home remedy that most people have in their medicine cabinets already. Apply a very small amount of petroleum jelly to the inside of the nose to keep it moisturized. This shouldn’t be used regularly or for extended periods but can be helpful when you are dealing with a severely dry nose that needs immediate relief.
Use a Humidifier
A humidifier can certainly put moisture back into your home’s dry air, especially during the winter months when you have the heat running all day and night. Sleeping with a humidifier can improve the humidity and moisture in the room to give your poor dry nasal passages a bit of a soothing break.
Enjoy a Steam
Another way to open up nasal passages and soothe dry noses is by giving the nostrils a good old steam. You can do this by using your gym’s sauna room a few times a week or you can simply boil some water and place your face above the water to let the steam into the nostrils (cover your head with a towel to trap steam). A hot, steamy shower can also help.
Use Nasal Sprays
Over-the-counter saline nasal sprays can also be a great way to remove any dirt and germs that may be in the nasal passages while also keeping the nose wet. If you find yourself also battling congestion on top of a dry nose, saline nasal sprays can be a great option. Plus, unlike other types of nasal sprays, saline sprays can be used daily.
If you find yourself dealing with a severely dry nose that is cracking or leading to persistent nosebleeds, it may be a good time to consult with an ENT doctor who can provide you with more effective treatment options when home care just isn’t enough.
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