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Allergic Sinusitis

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What is an allergy?

An allergy is a genetic condition where the body responds to harmless substances in the environment as if they are harmful. One in three Americans has allergies and five million of them are children. Allergy symptoms range from mild to life threatening. Itchy eyes, throat, and ears, clogged sinuses, headaches, watery eyes, asthma, sneezing, and nasal congestion are the most common symptoms associated with allergies.

What is allergic sinusitis?

Sinusitis is characterized by pain over the involved sinus, facial tenderness and nasal drainage. Patients with allergic sinusitis or rhinitis may be distinguished from infectious or bacterial sinusitis by the intensity of their symptoms, an association of the symptoms with specific agents or environment, and clear or white nasal discharge.

How do you treat allergic sinusitis?

Allergic sinusitis is initially treated by oral antihistamines and nasal steroid sprays. In those individuals refractive to such therapy, allergic evaluation is indicated. Such evaluation will include a careful questioning of the patient to detect possible allergens (such as flower pollens). If indicated, skin testing or special blood tests (RAST) are performed to identify the allergen. Failure to identify an allergen does not mean the patients lacks allergies, rather testing is limited to common allergens. Many individuals are allergic agents which are not covered by such testing. When the allergen can be identified, immunotherapy (allergy shots) is recommended.

What ways can one avoid allergic reactions?

It is very difficult to avoid all allergens completely, but one can minimize the effects of allergies by following a few simple guidelines:

  • Stay inside or avoid exercising during peak pollen times (5am-10am and 4pm-7pm)
  • Use air conditioning with a good filter both at home and in the car. Clean the filters frequently.
  • Shower and wash your hair after spending time out doors.
  • Use a dehumidifier to cut down on molds.
  • Remove dust gatherers such as books, stuffed animals, curtains and rugs.
  • Use a mattress cover if you are allergic to house dust.

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