Allergies

In Denver and Lone Tree, Colorado

45 million Americans suffer from allergiesAllergy symptoms occur when the body’s immune system begins to respond to a substance as though it were a dangerous invader (called an antigen).The body sends out defenders called antibodies to the site and chemical mediatorssuch as histamineinto the bloodstreamThis is what causes our allergy symptomsCommon symptoms are itching eyessneezingnasal stuffinessor a drippy noseSome people have drainage down the back of their throatshoarsenessor coughSkin irritationhivesand asthma are other symptoms that can be related to allergiesSometimesallergies can contribute to chronic sinus problems as swollen membranes in the nose block sinus drainage pathways.

What are these allergens that are making us miserable?

Pollen allergies (also called hay fever) are common causes when patients have seasonal problemsIn the early springtree pollenssuch as Juniper and Cottonwoodcan cause allergy symptomsIn late May and Junegrasses are the culpritThenafter a brief full in Julyweed pollens (such as ragweedsageand tumbleweed) may cause fall symptoms.

Perennial allergens are substances that may affect us all year long.These include pet danderfoodsand moldsOur ENT physicians are highly qualified to diagnosetestand treat allergic diseaseAfter a careful history and examif allergy is suspectedwe will have you meet with our allergy nurse who will review all your medications and schedule you for an allergy testThese tests help identify which particular allergens trigger your symptoms.

Once the testing has been completedwe will develop a customized treatment plan for youThere are three basicaccepted approaches to allergy care: avoidance of offending allergensmedications that treat symptomsand immunotherapy or desensitization to allergies with shots or dropsOur doctors will help guide you in making these choices.

Avoiding Allergies

Here are some suggestions for controlling your environment:

  • Use a HEPA air purifier in your bedroom to help clean the air you breathe while sleeping.
  • Keep windows closed during heavy pollen season.
  • Wear a pollen mask when mowing grass.
  • Rinsing the nose or eyes helps wash pollen away.
  • Keep pets out of the bedroom and limit your exposure.
  • Rid your home of indoor plants and other sources of mold.

Allergy Medications

Though medicines helpthey will often be needed long term and only treat the symptoms.

  • Antihistaminesboth over-the-counter and prescriptionhelp relieve sneezingdrippy noses.
  • Decongestants can help with nasal congestion.
  • Nasal steroid sprays can decrease many allergy nasal symptoms.
  • Eye drops can help relieve itchyredor watery eyes.

Immunotherapy

This is the only treatment method that can offer lasting relief or cure from allergiesAllergy injections or shots are designed to desensitize you to those substances to which you are allergicSterile extracts are prepared from allergy-producing substances such as pollensmold sporesand animal danderThese biological substances are injected in increasingly stronger doses on a regular schedule (usually once per week) until your maximum dose has been achievedThis formula is custom made for each individual based on their test results and the level of sensitivityWe give allergy injections Monday through Thursday from 7:30 AM to 5:00 PM and no appointment is necessarymaking it convenient for patients to just stop in.

Allergy drops (also sublingual immunotherapy) work like allergy shotsslowly desensitizing you to your allergiesThey are delivered under the tongue in a drop form that can be taken at homeAllergy drops can safely and effectively treat a broad range of allergiesincluding pollendanderand moldsDrops are taken every day and are placed under the tongueThey can be taken when patients are travelingThey are very safe and have a slight sweet tasteThe drops have proven to be a great alternative for patients who cannot come in every week for injectionsMedical insurance does not currently cover the cost of dropsbut they are reasonable in price.

Allergic RhinitisSinusitisand Rhinosinusitis

Inflammation of the nasal mucous membrane is called rhinitisThe symptoms include sneezingrunnyand/or itchy nose caused by irritation and congestion in the noseThere are two types: allergic rhinitis and non-allergic rhinitis.

Allergic Rhinitis: This condition occurs when the body’s immune system over-responds to specificnon-infectious particles such as plant pollensmoldsdust mitesanimal hairindustrial chemicals (including tobacco smoke)foodsmedicinesand insect venomDuring an allergic attackantibodiesprimarily immunoglobin E (IgE)attach to mast cells (cells that release histamine) in the lungsskinand mucous membranesOnce IgE connects with the mast cellsa number of chemicals are releasedOne of the chemicalshistamineopens the blood vessels and causes skin redness and swollen membranesWhen this occurs in the nosesneezing and congestion are the result.

Seasonal allergic rhinitis or hayfever occurs in late summer or springHypersensitivity to ragweednot hayis the primary cause of seasonal allergic rhinitis in 75 percent of all Americans who suffer from this seasonal disorderPeople with sensitivity to tree pollen have symptoms in late March or early Aprilan allergic reaction to mold spores occurs in October and November as a consequence of falling leaves.

Perennial allergic rhinitis occurs year-round and can result from sensitivity to pet hairmold on wallpaperhouseplantscarpetingand upholsterySome studies suggest that air pollution such as automobile engine emissions can aggravate allergic rhinitisAlthough bacteria is not the cause of allergic rhinitisone medical study found a significant number of the bacteria Staphylococcus Aureus in the nasal passages of patients with year-round allergic rhinitisconcluding that the allergic condition may lead to higher bacterial levelsthereby creating a condition that worsens the allergies.

Patients who suffer from recurring bouts of allergic rhinitis should observe their symptoms on a continuous basisIf facial pain or a greenish-yellow nasal discharge occursa qualified earnoseand throat specialist can provide appropriate sinusitis treatment.

Non-Allergic Rhinitis: This form of rhinitis does not depend on the presence of IgE and is not due to an allergic reactionThe symptoms can be triggered by cigarette smoke and other pollutants as well as strong odorsalcoholic beveragesand coldOther causes may include blockages in the nosea deviated septuminfectionsand over-use of medications such as decongestants.

Rhinosinusitis: Clarifying The Relationship Between The Sinuses And Rhinitis Recent studies by otolaryngologist–head and neck surgeons have better defined the association between rhinitis and sinusitisThey have concluded that sinusitis is often preceded by rhinitis and rarely occurs without concurrent rhinitisThe symptomsnasal obstructiondischargeand loss of smelloccur in both disordersMost importantlycomputed tomography (CT scan) findings have established that the mucosal linings of the nose and sinuses are simultaneously involved in the common cold (previouslythought to affect only the nasal passages)Otolaryngologistsacknowledging the inter-relationship between the nasal and sinus passagesnow refer to sinusitis as rhinosinusitis.

The catalyst relating the two disorders is thought to involve nasal sinus overflow obstructionfollowed by bacterial colonization and infection leading to acuterecurrentor chronic sinusitisLikewisechronic inflammation due to allergies can lead to obstruction and subsequent sinusitis.

Other medical research has supported the close relationship between allergic rhinitis and sinusitisIn a retrospective study on sinus abnormalities in 1,120 patients (from two to 87 years of age)thickening of the sinus mucosa was more commonly found in sinusitis patients during JulyAugustSeptemberand Decembermonths in which pollenmoldand viral epidemics are prominentA review of patients (four to 83 years of age) who had surgery to treat their chronic sinus conditions revealed that those with seasonal allergy and nasal polyps are more likely to experience a recurrence of their sinusitis.