Gearing Up for Fall Allergy Season

August 4th, 2018

fall-allergiesIt’s August, and the pollen of spring and blooms of summer are finally beginning to fade. So how come you’re still sneezing? Fall allergies can trigger just as many symptoms as spring and summer, unfortunately. Ragweed is the biggest culprit – it starts to release pollen with cool nights and warm days in August, but can last into September and October. About 75% of people allergic to spring plants also have reactions to ragweed.

Mold is another fall trigger. Mold spores love wet spots outside, such as piles of damp leaves. Or your fall issue may be dust mites. They can get stirred into the air the first time you turn on your heat in the fall and trigger sneezes, wheezes, and runny noses. Mold and dust mites are common in schools, so returning to the classroom can trigger allergies for some kids.

Our doctors can help find out what’s causing your watery, itchy eyes and runny nose. They’ll talk to you about your medical history and symptoms, and may recommend a skin test. To do this, the doctor will place a tiny amount of the allergen on your skin – usually on your back or forearm – and then prick or scratch the skin underneath. If you’re allergic to it, you’ll get a small, raised bump that itches like a mosquito bite. Sometimes a blood test may also be used to figure out a cause.

There are medications you can use to ease symptoms of allergies. Steroid nasal sprays can reduce inflammation in your nose. Antihistamines help stop sneezing, sniffling, and itching. Decongestants help relieve stuffiness and dry up the mucus in of your nose. Immunotherapy in the form of allergy shots or oral tablets or drops can also help you feel better. You can buy some allergy medications without a prescription, but talk to our doctors to make sure you get the right one.

To manage symptoms on your own try staying indoors with the doors and windows closed when pollen is at its peak (usually in the late morning or midday). Before you turn on your heat for the first time, clean your heating vents and change the filter. Bits of mold and other allergens can get trapped in the vents over the summer and will fill the air as soon as you start the furnace. Use a HEPA filter in your heating system to remove pollen, mold, and other particles from the air. Use a dehumidifier to keep your air at between 35% and 50% humidity, and consider wearing a mask when you rake leaves so you don’t breathe in mold spores.

Care for Your Ears During Summer Swimming

July 4th, 2018

swimmers-earThere is nothing like dunking yourself in cool water to avoid blistering summer heat. If you avoid swimming for fear of swimmer’s ear, a popsicle can only do so much to keep you cool. There are steps you can take while enjoying a summer swim to help your ears stay healthy while you stay cool and comfortable in the water.

First, pick your pool carefully. Avoid swimming in bodies of water that may be contaminated with bacteria. Check for regular cleaning and disinfecting schedules if using a public pool. Research pollution level warnings before planning a swim in local rivers, lakes or ponds.

They may not look cool, but wearing a swimming cap helps protect your ears from getting wet while you are swimming. It is important to put the swimming cap on properly with the ears completely covered. To put it on, stretch the swimming cap open. Lean forward and slide the cap on, slowly moving your hands downward as the cap slides onto your head. Once the swimming cap reaches your ears, remove your hands completely and tug the cap down until snug.

Or, wear ear plugs as an alternative to a swimming cap to prevent water from entering the outer ear canal. Ear plugs come in both disposable and reusable versions; people who do not have latex allergies should consider using reusable latex plugs. Just be sure not to push the plugs too deep into your ear.

When you are done swimming, dry your ears thoroughly. Tilt your head and pull your earlobes in different directions to help drain the water. Use a clean, soft towel to pat your outer ear, and tilt your head to the side to allow any water that has gotten into the inner ear to drain out. Or, use a blow dryer on its lowest setting. Hold it a foot out away from each ear for about 30 seconds. It is possible to buy over-the-counter eardrops to help dry up any leftover water. But don’t put eardrops in your ear if you have had any ear pain, ear surgery, or have a tear in your eardrum.

If you have pain or discomfort inside your ear or a pussy oozing from your ear after swimming, make an appointment so that we can help you get back on the pool floatie faster!

Kids’ poor nutrition could lead to later-life hearing loss

June 4th, 2018

8acd5da8376aa8d9333b7e4d0e9ff76fBlue popsicles, fruit snacks and pepperoni pizza may be rites of childhood … but they may not be great for long-term hearing. Poor nutrition in childhood can lead to an increased risk for developing health conditions – including  hearing loss, according to a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Researchers found that young adults who suffered from poor nutrition in early childhood were twice as likely to suffer hearing loss than their better-fed peers.

Researchers looked at the relationship between nutrition and hearing of 2,200 young adults in Nepal. They found that those who were too short or too thin for their age were twice as likely to show signs of hearing loss. The link from nutrition to hearing could occur a couple of ways. In the case of stunted growth, researchers suspect poor nutrition impedes inner ear development beginning in the womb. Being underweight, on the other hand, raises the risk for developing chronic ear infections.

“Our findings should help elevate hearing loss as a still-neglected public health burden, and one that nutrition interventions in early childhood might help prevent,” Keith West Jr., principal investigator of the study said.

In the United States, poor nutrition early in life is often a result of food insecurity, or the inability of a family to afford enough food for all its members, said West. Just over 12 percent of American households were food insecure in 2016. Poor nutrition can also be a result of choice. Empty calories from added sugars and fats account for 40 percent of daily calories for children and adolescents age 2-18 years of age, according to Centers for Disease Control. Most youth in the U.S. do not meet daily fruit and vegetable recommendations or drink the recommended amount of water.

Modeling good health habits for your family can help your children and grandchildren develop healthy habits of their own and stave off hearing loss due to poor nutrition.  Eat a balanced diet, get the proper amount of exercise, protect your hearing from exposure to loud or excessive noise, and schedule regular checkups with one of our hearing professional.

For more on the research:

Avoiding the Eight Most Common Food Allergy Triggers

May 6th, 2018

food_allergies1Food allergies are caused by your immune system. Your body misidentifies a harmless food as something that could make you sick and tries to protect you. When you eat something you’re allergic to, your immune system responds. You might get a mild skin rash or itchy eyes, or you could have a bigger reaction that leaves you gasping for breath. Food allergies can be serious, but you can take steps to manage them. One of the best things you can do is avoid your trigger foods.

Eight foods cause about 90% of food allergy reactions:

  • Milk (mostly in children)
  • Eggs
  • Peanuts
  • Tree nuts, like walnuts, almonds, pine nuts, brazil nuts, and pecans
  • Soy
  • Wheat and other grains with gluten, including barley, rye, and oats
  • Fish (mostly in adults)
  • Shellfish (mostly in adults)

Less common foods that may trigger allergies include:

  • Corn
  • Gelatin
  • Meat — beef, chicken, mutton, and pork
  • Seeds, often sesame, sunflower, and poppy
  • Spices, such as caraway, coriander, garlic, and mustard

An allergic reaction can happen within minutes of eating, or it may happen hours later.

Mild symptoms can be hard to tie to specific foods. You could get red, swollen, dry, or itchy skin rash, including hives or eczema. Or, you may experience a runny or stuffy nose, sneezing, or a slight, dry cough. Other symptoms can include itchy, watery, red eyes, itchy mouth or inside your ears, a funny taste in your mouth, or upset stomach, cramps, throwing up, or diarrhea.

Peanuts, nuts, fish, and shellfish more often cause severe reactions, although any food can. Symptoms include trouble breathing or swallowing, swollen lips, tongue, or throat, feeling weak, confused, or light-headed, or passing out, or experiencing chest pain or a weak, uneven heartbeat.

Because young children may not know how to describe what’s happening, they might say something like, “My mouth is tingling,” “My tongue feels heavy,” or “I’ve got a frog in my throat.” A hoarse or squeaky voice or slurring words are also signs of an allergic reaction in kids.

Sometimes symptoms affect your whole body and are so serious that they’re life-threatening. This kind of reaction is called anaphylaxis, and it’s a medical emergency. It usually happens a few minutes after you’ve eaten. If you have asthma as well as a food allergy, you’re more likely to have anaphylaxis. When you have a severe food allergy, you should carry injectable epinephrine (adrenaline). It can ease symptoms until you can get medical attention. Do not hesitate to use the epinephrine auto-injector ever if you are unsure your symptoms are caused by an allergy. The epinephrine could save your life.

For highly allergic people, even tiny amounts of a food (for example, 1/44,000 of a peanut kernel) can set off a reaction. Less sensitive people may be able to eat small amounts of their trigger food.

Teaching Your Child to Swallow Medicines

April 6th, 2018

ask-dr-mom-taking-medicine-childrens-healthSometimes, even a spoonful of sugar won’t quite do the trick. Medicines in pill form can be hard for some kids to get down. When your child needs to take medication, they may struggle to swallow pills until they learn to master the skill.

And it is a skill … some people learn to swallow pills quickly and easily, and for others, it takes practice. For kids, swallowing the pill can be as scary as the sickness itself, and it is important to support them both physically and emotionally. Give them plenty of time so they don’t feel pressured. Ignore negative behavior, and heap praise on the positive. Have your child take a deep breath and let it out slowly as you begin practice.

Experts suggest starting with candy. Begin with a tiny piece. After helping your child swallow it two times, move on to a bigger one. If after two tries they can’t succeed swallowing the bigger piece, go back to a smaller size for more practice. Here are some candies to practice with, from smallest to largest:

  • Sprinkles (the kind that are put on cupcakes)
  • Nerds
  • Mini M&M’s (smaller than the regular size)
  • Tic Tacs
  • Regular size M&M’s or Skittles
  • Jelly Belly brand jelly beans (smaller than other brands)
  • Good & Plenty

Try using water that is room-temperature or slightly warm. Encourage your child to take a sip of water before and after swallowing to help the pill go down. Don’t try the same method repeatedly – try different ways of swallowing to see what works best. Most people put the pill on the back of their tongue and drink water until the pill goes down their throat. Some people like to put water in their mouth and then put the pills in with the water, then swallow the water and pill together. Other people have success putting the pill in their mouth, and then drinking water through a straw.

Some kids are afraid they might choke on a pill. Have them open their mouth in front of a mirror and say “ahhhh,” like you do at the doctor’s. Have them notice how big their throat is, and point out how easily pills will fit.

Have your child tilt their head back slightly when they swallow so it’s easier to get to get the pill down – but don’t do this for capsules – they float. Instead, have them tilt their head down a little so that the capsule floats to the back of their mouth. Or try having them look straight ahead while swallowing. Everyone has a method that works for them.

If the problem is more about smell and taste of the pill, slip it into a spoonful of ice-cream, applesauce, or other soft food – but do not crush or break pills because they won’t work as effectively.

Practice for 10 to 20 minutes per day. End with a “success” – make sure they swallow the last pill of the practice session, even if you need to go back to a smaller size. If your child is still having trouble, work with a psychologist or therapist to help them manage their anxiety. Hypnotherapy or using a pill swallowing cup are other options that may help. If they have trouble swallowing other things (not just pills), talk to your doctor. They may have a condition that makes it difficult to swallow.

Avoiding Food Triggers for Tinnitus

March 6th, 2018

tinnitusAround 50 million Americans get that annoying ringing, roaring, whistling, hissing, clanging or shrieking sound in their ears. Tinnitus often occurs because the tiny hair cells in the inner ear are damaged, producing constant stimulation of aural nerves. There are many factors that contribute to this condition, including exposure to loud noise, aging, medications, hearing loss, allergies and stress. Several food or food additives can also trigger or exacerbate ringing in the ear.

If you have tinnitus, you may want to think about kicking that diet soda habit for good. Some researchers suspect aspartame might have a connection to tinnitus. Though a definitive link between the two has yet to be proven, the reason aspartame is considered suspect is that some components of it may be toxic to the brain and the inner ear – two organs that are particularly sensitive to neurotoxins. Specifically, phenylalanine, aspartic acid and methanol become toxic after periods of long storage or exposure to heat.

Many people with tinnitus report worse symptoms after eating salty food, according to the American Tinnitus Association. Salt restricts blood vessels, increasing blood pressure within the major arteries while reducing blood flow into the eyes, ears and brain. Snack foods, fast foods and processed foods tend to contain large amounts of salt.

Salicylates are naturally occurring chemicals that protect plants against bacteria, pests and disease. People with salicylate sensitivity can have adverse reactions to the accumulation of salicylates in their body. People with tinnitus can experience a worsening of their symptoms when exposed to salicylates, according to the Journal of Neurosciences. Foods that contain salicylates include fruits such as dried fruit, blackberries, blueberries, boysenberry, oranges, pineapples, raisins, raspberries, strawberries and tangerines. Vegetables with salicylates include peppers, tomatoes, and canned green olives. Other foods with salicylates include almonds, peanuts with skins on, coconut oil, olive oil, processed lunch meats, corn syrup, honey, jams and peppermint.

For various reasons, several beverages can trigger or worsen tinnitus symptoms. Red wine, grain-based spirits such as rum and beer, cider, sherry and brandy all contain high to very high levels of salicylates. Beverages that contain caffeine such as coffee, tea, hot chocolate and energy drinks also exacerbate tinnitus, according to American Tinnitus Association. Caffeine may exacerbate tinnitus in some people by increasing blood pressure and stimulating nerve cell activity.

A significant portion of people with tinnitus have a sugar metabolism problem called hyperinsulinemia, according to the National Institutes of Health. Hyperinsulinemia occurs when the body develops an insensitivity to insulin and therefore fails to break sugar down and deliver it to cells. This resulting excess of glucose in the blood stream causes the pancreas to release more insulin. People with tinnitus who maintain a diabetic diet may experience an improvement in their tinnitus symptoms.

Although fats do not necessarily cause an immediate exacerbation of tinnitus symptoms, foods with saturated and trans fats contribute to poor circulation and reduce blood flow. A diet high in these unhealthy fats increases bad cholesterol and decreases good cholesterol, affecting long-term heart health and potentially heightening the severity of ringing in the ears. Foods high in trans and saturated fats include fried foods, whole milk, butter, shortening, ice cream, fatty meats like pork and beef, chicken skin and fat, snack foods and candy.

Possible Signs Your Thyroid isn’t Working Correctly

February 4th, 2018

GTY_thyroid_tk_130829_16x9_992It may be a small part of your anatomy … but your thyroid (the butterfly-shaped gland located at the base of your throat) is one of the most powerful parts of your body. It produces hormones that regulate everything from your appetite and energy levels to your body’s internal thermostat. It influences, in fact, almost all of the metabolic processes in your body. So when things go wrong, you notice. Although the effects of a misbehaving thyroid can be unpleasant or uncomfortable, most thyroid problems can be managed well if properly diagnosed and treated.

At least 30 million Americans have a thyroid disorder. Women are as much as 10 times as likely as men to have a problem. If you’re a woman over 35, your odds of a thyroid disorder are high – more than 30%, by some estimates. What causes your thyroid to go haywire? It could be genetics, an autoimmune attack, pregnancy, stress, nutritional deficiencies, or toxins in the environment – experts aren’t entirely sure. Because thyroid hormones reach everywhere in the body, diagnosing a disorder can be a challenge. Here’s some possible signs that your thyroid might have issues:

You’re Beat
Feeling tired and lacking energy could be symptoms of many issues, but they’re also linked with hypothyroidism, a disorder that’s the result of too little thyroid hormone. If you’re tired after a full night’s sleep, that may be a clue that your thyroid is underactive. A lack of hormone in your bloodstream and cells means your muscles aren’t getting the signal to perform.
You’re in the Dumps
Feeling unusually depressed or sad can also be a symptom of hypothyroidism. It’s thought that the production of too little thyroid hormone can have an impact on levels of serotonin in the brain. With an underactive thyroid turning other body systems down, your mood might sink too.

You Feel Anxious
Anxiety and feeling “wired” are associated with hyperthyroidism, when the thyroid gland is making too much hormone. When your body is flooded with messages to be on high alert, your metabolism and whole body may be working overtime.

Your Appetite Changes
An increased appetite can be a sign of hyperthyroidism leaving you feeling hungry all of the time. The only upside is that the “hyper” part of the disorder typically offsets the caloric impact of an increased appetite so the end result sometimes isn’t weight gain. An underactive thyroid, on the other hand, can mess with your sense of taste and smell.

It’s Hard to Focus
This is another one that could be caused by lack of sleep or aging, but cognitive function can suffer when your thyroid is out of sync. Too much thyroid hormone can make it difficult to concentrate, and too little can trigger forgetfulness and brain fog.

Your Libido Changes
Too little thyroid hormone could be a contributor to a low libido, but the impact of other hypothyroidism symptoms – weight gain, low energy, and body aches and pains – could also play a part.

You’re Heart is all a Flutter
That feeling could be heart palpitations. It can feel like your heartbeat is irregular or beating too hard and quickly. You may notice these feelings in your chest or at pulse points in your throat or neck. Heart flutters or palpitations can be a sign of too many thyroid hormones flooding your system.

You Use Lotion in Bulk
Skin that’s dry and itchy can be a symptom of a thyroid disorder. The change in skin texture and appearance may be due to slowed metabolism (linked to too little thyroid hormone production), which can reduce sweating. Skin without enough moisture can quickly become dry and flaky and nails can become brittle and may develop ridges.

Your Bathroom Schedule is Off
People with hypothyroidism sometimes complain of constipation. The disruption in hormone production can cause a slowdown of digestive processes. On the reverse side of the spectrum, an overactive thyroid gland can cause diarrhea or more frequent bowel movements.

Your Periods have Changed
Longer menstrual periods with a heavier flow and more cramps can be a sign of hypothyroidism. Periods may also be closer together. With hyperthyroidism, high levels of hormone cause menstrual irregularities in a different way. Periods are shorter, farther apart and may be very light.

You have Painful Extremities or Muscles
If you have mysterious and sudden tingling or numbness – or actual pain – in your arms, legs, feet, or hands, that could be a sign of hypothyroidism. Over time, producing too little thyroid hormone can damage the nerves that send signals from your brain and spinal cord throughout your body.

You have High Blood Pressure
Elevated blood pressure can be a symptom of a thyroid disorder. By some estimates, people with hypothyroidism have two to three times the risk of developing hypertension. One theory is that low amounts of thyroid hormone can slow heart beat, which can affect pumping strength and blood vessel wall flexibility.

You Sweat or Wear a Sweater
Feeling cold or having chills is associated with hypothyroidism. The system slow-down caused by an underactive thyroid means less energy is being burned by cells. Less energy equals less heat. On the other hand, an overactive thyroid puts energy-producing cells into overdrive. That’s why people with hyperthyroidism sometimes feel too warm or sweat profusely.

Your Neck Feels Strange
A change in your voice or a lump in your throat could be a sign of a thyroid disorder. One way to check is to take a good look at your neck to see if you can detect any signs of thyroid swelling. You can do a physical check of your own thyroid at home. Using a hand mirror, watch your throat as you swallow a drink of water. Look for any bulges or protrusions in the thyroid area, which is below your Adam’s apple but above your collarbones. If you see anything that’s lumpy or suspicious, see your doctor.

Your Sleep Schedule is a Mess
Want to sleep all of the time? It could be hypothyroidism. A sluggish thyroid can slow bodily functions down to the point where sleeping (even in the daytime) seems like a brilliant idea. Can’t sleep? It could be hyperthyroidism. An overactive thyroid can cause anxiety and rapid pulse, which can make it hard to fall asleep or even wake you in the middle of the night.

You’ve Gained Weight
Going up a few dress sizes can be caused by so many things that it’s unlikely your doctor will look at weight gain alone as a potential thyroid disorder symptom. However, weight gain is one of the top reasons women see their doctor for a thyroid check. On the other end of the scale, a sudden weight loss can signal hyperthyroidism.

Your Hair is Thinning
Dry, brittle hair that breaks or falls out can be a sign of hypothyroidism. Too little thyroid hormone disrupts your hair growth cycle and puts too many follicles into “resting” mode, resulting in hair loss—sometimes all over your body including at the outside of your eyebrows. An overactive thyroid can also do a number on your hair. Hair issues due to hyperthyroidism typically show up as thinning hair just on your head.

Now What?
If you’ve read through this list and have concerns, get your thyroid tested. Make an appointment with one of our knowledgeable physicians to address your concerns. Based on your symptoms, test results, and a physical exam, you may be prescribed synthetic hormones. Testing and treating a thyroid disorder takes a bit of trial-and-error so expect to visit the doctor a few times before the dosage is right.

Singing Leads to Better Hearing

January 5th, 2018

Singing-3-singing-35633120-500-334Go ahead and belt that show tune in the shower — it’s for your health! It’s long been known that singing can reduce stress and increase mental alertness, but your melodies may also improve the way you hear and understand conversations in noisy places, according to recent research.

Deciphering speech in noisy situations can be hard for older adults. Hearing aids can only help so much, because separating speech from noise doesn’t happen in our ears as much as it does in our brains. As people age, something declines along the pathway between the inner ear and the brain’s auditory cortex. Although hearing aids are becoming increasingly better at suppressing extra noise, they can’t completely correct the problem of aging auditory systems.

But some people have less of a problem as they age. Older musicians do better than non-musicians at distinguishing speech from noise, even when their overall hearing is the same — and researchers wanted to know why. So some scientists invited older adults to join a choir (no musical experience or talent required), and tested whether the musical training changed how their brains processed speech in noisy environments. Each session lasts ten weeks, with one two-hour rehearsal each week.

“Singing is sort of like brain boot camp. You’re sort of whipping your neurons into shape,” said Ella Dubinsky, a graduate student in the lab where the choir experiment was conducted. “We wanted to see how short-term could we make the musical training. How quickly can we see these improvements?” she said.

In addition to the choir participants, the researchers followed two other control groups for comparison. One simply listened to music, and the other had no musical intervention. The result? The choir group’s hearing improved after singing training. The other two groups showed no improvement.

But don’t move to Broadway and addition for Hamilton yet. Besides singing, there are other ways that you can improve your hearing at any age.

Practice Focusing on and Locating Sounds.

Hearing exercises can help you hone in on where sounds are coming from and who or what is making the sounds. Create a noisy (but comfortable) environment. Have someone move around the room while reading sentences from a book or newspaper. Close your eyes, repeat the sentence back to them, and try to locate from where he or she is reading the sentence.

Practice recognizing various types of sound.

Close your eyes and listen to all the different sounds in your environment. One by one, try to decipher individual sounds that you hear, both near and far away. The more you practice, the more sounds you will learn to recognize.

Consider downloading software apps designed to improve hearing.

Examples include AB CLIX (based on identifying differences between words), Forbrain (based on recognizing pertinent sounds in voices), and Category Carousel (based on associating sounds with images).


Besides giving you strength, balance, and flexibility, did you know exercises like yoga, walking, and stretching can help with your hearing? Exercise increases circulation in your ear and brain, and good circulation is important for healthy nerve function. If your doctor agrees you’re healthy enough, chances are good that exercise will help you feel better as well as hear better, too.

Meet the Neti Pot — An Over-the-Counter Help for Sinus Infections

December 7th, 2017

neti_potYou can feel a sinus infection as soon as it hits … pressure, discomfort and misery. Even thinking about one might make your teeth ache. Treatments for sinus infections range from antibiotics to surgery. But now there is also a traditional remedy that’s getting more attention after recent research shows it to have promise … the neti pot.

The neti pot is a ceramic or plastic container that looks like Aladdin’s magic lamp. People use it to flush out their nasal cavities with a saline rinse (nasal irrigation). Recent research has shown it may work to reduce symptoms of sinus infections, and to relieve associated headaches. It also helped people use fewer over-the-counter medications. Doctors say nasal irrigation is worth trying if you suffer from persistent or recurring sinus infections … but be warned … it feels weird. The sensation of having water in your nose makes some people feel a bit claustrophobic until they master the technique.

How Do You Use a Neti Pot?

There aren’t any official medical guidelines, but Neti pots usually come with an insert that explains how to use them. You can also make an appointment with our doctors to talk you through the process before trying it on your own. Here are few tips:

  • Use distilled water for safety, rather than tap.
  • Add a saline solution (that comes pre-measured with your kit).
  • Bring the water to room temperature before using it, so it’s lukewarm to the touch.
  • Tip your head over a sink. The fluid should flow through your nasal cavity and out the opposite nostril.
  • There’s no need to fire hose your nose. It’s the volume of the fluid that’s cleaning out your sinuses, not the pressure.
  • When you start, hold your breath so you don’t shoot water into your airway.
  • Expect to make a mess. It’s a sign you are doing it right.
  • When you are done, gently blow your nose to get rid of any remaining liquid.
  • Clean your device after each use and allow it to air dry. Clean it regularly with soap and water to prevent bacterial growth, and replace it every few months.

For any patient seeking to reduce sinus infection symptoms, experts advise sticking with nasal irrigation for long enough to determine if it’s effective – even if it feels a little weird at first. If nasal rinses aren’t working, it will be important to speak with our specialists to determine if you have sinusitis, or perhaps another related issue instead.

The neti pot is generally safe to use. About 10% of regular users experience mild side effects, such as nasal irritation and stinging. Reducing the amount of salt in the solution, adjusting the frequency of Neti pot use, and changing the temperature of the water reduces side effects. Neti pots are available over-the-counter at many drug stores, health food stores, and online retailers. They usually cost between $10 and $20.

Teacher and Caregivers Should Know How & When to Use Auto-Injectors for Anaphylaxis

November 18th, 2017


If you’ve seen someone go into anaphylaxis after a severe allergic reaction, it can be scary. But if they have an auto-injection device (sometimes called an EpiPen). they can quickly and easily self-administer life-saving medication. To use it, a person pulls off the cap and sticks the needle into her thigh. The drugs enter the bloodstream immediately, kicking in within 30 seconds.

Around 3.6 million Americans carry this medication, many of them children. The pens contain epinephrine, otherwise known as adrenaline, which relaxes the muscles and opens up the airways, allowing a person to breathe. These drugs aren’t a cure  — they typically wear off after around 15 minutes. It’s really just a way to buy time while a patient seeks medical attention.

But a new study has found that when children with life threatening allergies experience anaphylaxis, parents, teachers and other caregivers often fail to administer epinephrine. The study showed that less than 40 percent of kids — even those who had previously experienced anaphylaxis and been prescribed an epinephrine auto-injector — received a dose of the drug before they got to the emergency room or an urgent care clinic after experiencing a reaction.

While awareness in schools about allergies has grown in recent years, there is a lag in understanding when it comes to using auto-injectors. It is important for anyone working with school-age children to be able to recognize the symptoms of anaphylaxis and understand how to use auto-injectors. Within minutes, an allergic reaction can turn into a life-threatening situation. Using epinephrine immediately after exposure to an allergy trigger can help reverse the symptoms.

Parents of children with severe allergies should work with teachers and caregivers at the start of each school year to create an action plan with an explanation of the child’s allergy triggers, what to do in case of reaction, where they have access to epinephrine and how to administer emergency anaphylactic treatment. Signs and symptoms of a life-threatening allergic reaction may include hives, nausea, cramping, diarrhea, vomiting, swelling of the face and throat, wheezing or difficulty breathing, chest pain, flushing, headache or seizures.

The start of a new school year is also an important time to check dates on the auto-injection device to be sure it hasn’t expired. If you want more information about these devices, or have questions about when to use them, come in and talk to our doctors!