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10 Things You Didn’t Know Were Making Your Allergies Worse

Some allergies are obvious -- such as always sneezing when you see a certain flower, tree or shrub blooming. However, other allergy triggers can be subtler, but that does not mean they are any less concerning. Since May was National Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month, our Hagerstown sinus and allergy group want to remind you of a few behaviors and exposures that can worsen your allergies.
  1. Nitrogen Dioxide: Do you have a gas-cooking stove or use a gas space heater? If so, you could be exposing you or your family to nitrogen dioxide, a gas that’s given off when you use these devices. This gas can worsen asthma and lead to chronic bronchitis, which is why it is important to always use an exhaust fan or open a window to allow air to flow.
  2. Molds: Mold spores can be a common allergy trigger and love to grow indoors in warm, wet places. When sensitive individuals inhale them, an asthma attack can occur. This is why it is important to always fix any visible water leaks and clean mold on hard surfaces, allowing your cleaner to dry completely.
  3. Your Houseplants: While your houseplants may add a little greenery to your home environment, some of them are highly allergenic. Some houseplants known to be especially allergenic include the palm tree, orchid, fern, ficus, ivy and yucca plants.
  4. When You Take Your Allergy Medicine: Allergies tend to be worse in the morning, which is why it’s best to take your allergy medicine at night. This way, it can start working by the time you wake up in the morning. Otherwise, if you wait until the morning, you will experience allergy symptoms until the medicine kicks in.
  5.  Your Stress Levels: Heightened stress levels are associated with worsening allergy symptoms. Not sleeping enough can also make your allergy symptoms worse, according to ABC News.
  6. Your Washing Machine Settings: If your washing machine’s water temperature is not turned up to 140 degrees for your water, the temperature will not be hot enough to kill allergy-causing dust mites. Note, however, that this temperature can cause scalding, so use caution around your washer in these instances
  7. Opening Your Windows: While it’s lovely to let the summer Hagerstown breeze blow in via your window, think about what else you’re letting in: allergens. To keep this from occurring, you may wish to wait until allergy season dies down before keeping the windows open.
  8. Your Workout Time: If you are pounding the pavement outdoors during the early morning or afternoon hours, then your allergies are likely to be worse than if you waited until later. Try late afternoon instead to give your body time for your allergies to die down.
  9. Too Many Stuffed Animals: While stuffed animals may be cute, they also are major dust collectors, which can lead to increased allergy symptoms. Your best bet is to find stuffed animals that can be washed and limit these stuffed animals to a select few.
  10. Your Sleep With a Down Comforter: Down comforters may be cozy, but they are also highly allergenic. This is especially true for the older the comforter and/or pillow because the feathers break down more and more over time. For this reason, you may be better off switching to a polyester fiberfill option.
To learn how Central ENT Consultants in Hagerstown can help you find allergy relief, please call (301) 739-0400.

Learn How Allergies Affect Your Ears, Nose and Throat

With millions of people suffering from allergies, Dr. Kirby Scott helps patients in Hagerstown better understand how they affect the ears, nose and throat. Allergy symptoms appear when the immune system reacts to an allergic substance that has entered the body as though it was an unwelcomed invader.  The immune system will produce special antibodies that are capable of recognizing the same allergic substance if it enters the body at a later time. 
If you suffer from allergies in Hagerstown, you are not alone.  Allergies are very common, affecting an estimated 50 million Americans, which is one in every six people in the United States.  A wide array of allergens may trigger an allergic reaction in sensitive people through the air, by touch, or by ingestion.  They can appear at any age, and can even disappear in childhood only to reappear in adulthood.

Patients Understand Allergies

An allergy is an exaggerated immune response or reaction to substances that are generally not harmful.  Those who have allergies are sensitive to more than one thing.  Often, substances that cause reactions include:
  • Pollen
  • Dust mites
  • Mold spores
  • Pet dander
  • Food
  • Insect stings
  • Medicines
It is believed that both genes and the environment contribute to your allergies.  Many people believe an allergy as merely “hay fever,” with sneezing, a runny nose, nasal stuffiness and itchy, watery eyes.  However, allergies can also cause symptoms such as chronic sinus problems, postnasal drip, head congestion, frequent colds, and recurring ear infections, hearing loss, dizziness, chronic cough and asthma.  Stomach and intestinal problems, such as skin rashes, chronic headaches and fatigue can be symptoms of allergies.  Allergies can affect your ears, nose and throat, among other areas of your body.

How Allergies Affect your Ears, Nose and Throat

When you suffer from allergies in Hagerstown, the symptoms can range from a stuffy nose to an ear infection or sore throat.  Depending on your allergy, various parts of your body such as your ears, nose and throat can be significantly affected. 
One of the most common medical problems in children is otitis media, or middle ear infection.  These infections are especially common in early childhood.  They are even more common when children suffer from allergic rhinitis as well. Allergic inflammation can cause swelling in the nose and around the opening of the ear canal.  The swelling has potential to interfere with drainage of the middle ear.  When bacteria laden discharge clogs the tube, infection is more likely.
Allergies can cause enough inflammation that the opening to the sinuses is obstructed.  A bacterial sinus infection occurs as a result.  Allergens that are breathed in can often cause a stuffy nose, itchy nose and throat, mucus production, cough, or wheezing. 
Various allergens may also lead to the formation of too much mucus which can make the nose run or drip down the back of the throat, leading to “post-nasal drip.”  It can lead to cough, sore throats, and a husky voice.  Although more common in older people and in dry inland climates, thick, dry mucus can also irritate the throat and be hard to clear.   Air conditioning, winter heating, and dehydration can aggravate the condition as well. 

The best way to avoid your symptoms is to avoid what causes your allergies in the first place.  With help from our Hagerstown, MD ENT doctor, you can successfully control and alleviate your allergy symptoms.  Dr. Kirby Scott will perform various tests in order to come to a proper diagnosis, allowing you to breathe easily once again.