Allergies are caused by the immune system reacting to things in the environment. The things that trigger your allergic reactions are called allergens. Allergens can range from the things like pollens and molds to food and chemicals. The vast majority of allergens that cause sinus problems are those that we inhale, such as pollens and molds.
When the body comes into contact with something to which it is allergic, it produces histamine, a chemical that causes swelling and inflammation. If allergies are severe and persistent enough, it can lead to chronic conditions such as rhinitis, sinusitis, or asthma.
Allergies affect the sinuses when airborne allergens come into contact with the mucus lining in the nose and sinuses. The release of histamine and the resulting swelling can cause symptoms including:
Many people mistakenly believe our Arizona desert to be free of problematic allergens. Desert weeds, wildflowers, ragweed, a wide variety of imported non-native plant species and our urban pollutants all provide plenty. Non-plant allergens including mold, house dust mites, and pet dander can also trigger sinus problems.
We perform allergy tests in cases where we suspect they may play a role in your sinus problem. There are two ways that we are able to perform allergy testing. The first and most common is by exposing your skin to variety of substances that can cause allergies and then monitoring your skins reaction. The second is by using a blood test called RAST (radioallergosorbant test). Dr. Mendelson and his team will decide which test is right for you. If allergies are not a root cause of your sinus problems, knowing this will allow us to treat your sinus problem in a less invasive, more targeted way.
There is no cure for allergies but, with new techniques and medications, it is possible to live without experiencing the troubling symptoms associated with them. Many people have only mild allergies and may choose to live with them or just treat them with over the counter medications. For anyone whose allergies are more than just an annoyance we recommend allergy testing so that we can help develop a course of treatment.
The best way to decrease your allergy symptoms is through lifestyle changes aimed at avoiding the things that trigger your allergies. We recognize that this is easier said than done but, with new tools and products we can help you make avoidance a simpler than it used to be.
Using an over the counter saline spray or irrigation system regularly will cleanse and moisten the sinuses.
Antihistamines block the release of histaine, a chemical produced by the body that triggers an inflammatory reaction that can produce swelling, congestion, itching, sneezing, and a runny nose. Both prescription and over-the-counter antihistamines are available as pills and nasal sprays.
Nasal steroid sprays reduce the inflammatory reponse and, are the preferred treatment for mild allergies. They are very effective at reducing nasal congestions and irritation.
Leukotriene blockers reduce mucosal inflammation. They are usually used in combination with some of the other treatments listed on this page.
Available as either an over-the-counter nasal spray or pill. We do not recommend over-the-counter nasal decongestant sprays as they are addicting and have a high potential for rebound congestion if used for more than 3 days. The only oral decongestant available is pseudophedrine. It acts by reducing blood flow and therefore shrinking the membranes in your nose. Pseudophedrine is a stimulant and there are several drawbacks to its use such as elevated blood pressure, jitteriness, anxiousness, and poor sleep.
Also known as desensitization, immunotherapy introduces minute amounts of the allergens to which you are sensitive in order to train your immune system to react less severely to to those allergens. Over time, immunotheraphy will reduce the severity of your allergies.
This site will help you to be aware of the level of allergens in your environment. They also offer more general information about allergies.
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