Pediatrician administers vaccination to child

Got Allergies and Don’t Like Shots?

Some people just don’t like shots, even if they might help them with severe allergies. Well, now there is another way to receive the relief allergy shots may give you without the needles.

Sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT) is an alternative way to treat allergies without injections. An allergist gives a patient small doses of an allergen under the tongue to boost tolerance to the substance and reduce symptoms. According to a 2009 World Allergy Organization (WAO) paper, SLIT is widely accepted and used in European, South American, and Asian countries as well as in Australia and is gaining interest from allergists in the United States, including those at the ENT Center of Utah.

According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, an allergist must first use allergy testing to confirm the patients sensitivities. Once this is determined, an allergen extract is prepared in drop form and the patient is directed to keep it under the tongue for two minutes and then swallow it. The process is repeated daily with an average of three-to-five year commitment.

Is Sublingual Immunotherapy Effective and Safe?

Most clinical trials and surveys published over at least 20 years show that SLIT is relatively safe and effective for the treatment of rhinitis and asthma caused by allergies. In addition, it might prove an effective therapy for children with mild atopic dermatitis (eczema) and asthma. Side effects among both children and adults are usually local and mild, most often occur early in treatment, and include itching in the mouth or stomach problems.

Learn more about this therapy and get relief by consulting with an allergist at the ENT Center of Utah.

Utah allergies woman sneezing

Allergies in the Middle of the Summer? C’mon!

Many of us struggle with allergies but they often peak in spring and fall leaving summer a nice time of relief. So if your nose is running and you’re sneezing like crazy in the middle of summer, what gives?

Well, the biggest summer allergy trigger is pollen. When pollen finds its way into the noses of sensitive airways, it triggers the runny nose, itchy eyes, and other allergy symptoms. The higher the pollen counts, the worse you may feel.

Trees are usually done pollinating by late spring, so if the leafy giants are your primary triggers then you are feeling pretty good at mid-summer. But if you are allergic to grasses and weeds, you may be feeling the full effect.

The Worst Summer Allergy Plants

  • Ragweed
  • Cockleweed
  • Pigweed
  • Russian Thistle
  • Sagebrush
  • Tumbleweed
  • Bermuda Grasses
  • Blue grasses
  • Orchard
  • Red Top
  • Sweet Vernal
  • Timothy Hay

One thing to be aware of, especially in Utah, is that a potent and and common summer allergy trigger is on its way — ragweed, which usually arrives in August. Ragweed can travel for hundreds of miles in the wind. Even if it doesn’t grow where you live, it can make you feel bad if you’re allergic to it.

Summer air pollution can make allergy symptoms worse. One of the most common pollutants is ozone, which is created in the atmosphere by a combination of sunlight, nitrogen oxide, and hydrocarbons from burning fuel. The stronger sunlight and calmer winds during summer can create clouds of ozone around some cities, like Salt Lake City and Logan during inversions.

Inside, molds love damp areas, including the basement and bathrooms. Their spores get into the air and can cause problems for allergy sufferers.

Dust mites — microscopic insects — peak during summer. They thrive in warm, humid temperatures (luckily we rarely experience high humidity in Utah) and nest in beds, fabric, and carpets. Their residue can get into the air, triggering sneezes, wheezes, and runny noses.

Tips to Minimize the Effects without Medication

  • Try to stay indoors whenever the pollen count is high.
  • Keep your doors and windows closed whenever possible to keep allergens out. Use an air purifier.
  • Clean air filters in your home often. Clean bookshelves, vents, and other places where pollen can collect.
  • Wash bedding and rugs in hot water to eliminate dust mites and other allergens.
  • Wash your hair, shower, and change clothing after going outside to wash away pollen.
  • Vacuum often. Wear a mask, because vacuuming can kick up pollen, mold, and dust trapped in your carpet. Use a vacuum with a HEPA filter.
  • Wear a mask when you mow your lawn to avoid grass pollen.
  • Keep the humidity in your house between 30% and 50% to prevent the growth of dust mites.

How to Treat Summer Allergies without Seeing a Doctor

Over-the-counter allergy treatments include:

  • Antihistamines
  • Decongestants
  • Nasal spray decongestants (They shouldn’t be used more than three days.)
  • Corticosteroid nasal spray (Nasacort)
  • Cromolyn sodium nasal spray
  • Eye drops
  • Nasal irrigation like a Neti Pot

When You Should See a Doctor

If over-the-counter remedies don’t help, see a specialist such as one of the physicians at the ENT Center of Utah. Your doctor will talk to you about your symptoms and your allergy history. He may suggest allergy treatments. In some cases, he may refer you to an allergy specialist who may do a skin test (often called a scratch test), which exposes the skin of your arm or back to a tiny sample of allergen. If you’re allergic to a substance, a small red bump will form. A blood test can also diagnose allergies.

The doctor may recommend one of these prescription medications:

  • Corticosteroid nasal sprays
  • Leukotriene receptor antagonists (LTRAs) such as Singulair
  • Atrovent (ipratropium bromide) nasal spray
  • Immunotherapy in the form of allergy shots or oral tablets or drops
summer vacation

Health Concerns after Summer Vacation

The end of a “relaxing” vacation can sometimes spell the beginning of health issues. Address them before they build into major health concerns.

That long trip to the beach, that time in the salt or chlorinated water under the sun, dancing on the sand and late night conversations can come back to haunt you once you return your summer vacations. Post-holiday blues may often come from budding health problems as much as the doldrums of regular schedules again.

You experience severe fatigue and loss of energy after a vacation. Resulting from extensive traveling and new food habits, a weakened body may end up as flu or susceptible to new allergies, if not treated on time.

Remedy: Drink a lot of water to keep your body hydrated. Substitute oily food products with fresh fruits and vegetables. Do not bounce back to doing serious work that will tire you easily. If possible, resume your full work schedule after a day or two of adjustment.

This is one of the most common health concerns that people face after a vacation. Perhaps your body got accustomed to the pollution-free air at your dream destination and now finds the balance disturbed back at home. These respiratory concerns like clogging of the nose and a sore throat may be followed by high fever.

Remedy: Treat yourself with home remedies like ginger juice and honey or turmeric. They work better than antibiotics, since it is not a common cold, but a result of sudden change in climate conditions.

Depression and post-vacation blues usually present themselves as soon as all the fun comes to an end, and you know you will have to get back to the grind. It can also affect you physically. You usually do not catch up on a lot of sleep during vacation during the excitement of seeing new places. This leads to a lack of concentration and an inability to settle down to your routine.

Remedy: Ensure that you catch up on your sleep and recover, both mentally and physically. Do not start unpacking and washing, as soon as you come back, give yourself some time to settle down.

girl sneezing from allergies

8 Essential Tips to Manage Grass Allergies

It happens every late spring and early summer. Our Salt Lake City ENT doctors see many patients in our offices complaining about seasonal allergy symptoms.

Their noses are stuffed up.

Their throats feel scratchy.

They’re sneezing a lot.

They’re suffering from hay fever or what we know as seasonal allergies.

Spring and summer is peak allergy season in Utah as trees, flowers and grasses all pollinate. At the same time, mild day and night temperatures persuade people to open their windows to let in the “fresh air.”

Opening windows sounds like a great idea. But it’s the absolute wrong idea if you suffer from seasonal allergies.

Fortunately, allergy relief is available for grass allergy sufferers and the Ear, Nose and Throat Center can treat seasonal allergies in our Draper and Salt Lake City offices.

But if you follow these 8 tips to prevent grass allergies below, you may not need to visit a Utah allergist to control your allergies.

1. Don’t open windows of your home during peak pollen season

It’s tempting to open your window at night. But an open window near your bed is a direct path to invite pollen into your home. Take our advice and run the air conditioner instead of opening windows during peak allergy season and you’ll dramatically cut down your sneezing. Plus, you’ll sleep a whole lot better.

2. Don’t drive with your car windows open

Pollen doesn’t discriminate; it goes wherever the wind blows. Keep your windows closed while driving and you and your nose will be much happier.

3. Don’t line-dry your clothing

Clothes dryers aren’t just fast and convenient; clothes dryers also help reduce exposure to grass pollen. Line-dried clothes have that “fresh” smell but they may also be covered with pollen.

4. Don’t mow your lawn without a mask

Cutting the lawn can be very satisfying because you see instant results. But mow your lawn during peak grass allergy season and you may instantly aggravate and activate your allergies. A simple mask you can purchase at Home Depot will help minimize grass pollen exposure. You can also consider paying someone to mow your grass during allergy season. Sure, it will cost a bit more, but you’ll save yourself the aggravation of grass allergies.

5. Cut your grass short

You’ve probably noticed that when grass gets longer, you see seeds at the tips of the blades. Those seeds release pollen and the fewer the seeds, the less likely you are to suffer a grass allergy outbreak.

6. Stay indoors between 5:00 am and 10:00 am

While a morning walk or run can prove refreshing, winds are often blowing in the early-morning hours and pollen levels can be at their highest. Pollen levels drop in the late afternoon or early evening and that’s the better time to get outside to work or play during grass allergy season.

7. Bathe your pets often during allergy season

Grass pollen easily attaches to the coats or hair of pets. If your dog has been rolling around on the grass, it’s going to bring pollen into your home. A quick bath can help prevent grass allergies later.

8. Shower immediately after working or exercising outdoors

Like your pet, if you’re working in the yard or exercising outside, grass pollen will find its way into your hair and clothing. A quick shower and change of clothes is a good way to prevent pollen from spreading through your house.

Contact an ENT Doctor or Allergist with Questions

Contact the Ear, Nose and Throat Center of Utah or a local allergist or ENT doctor to learn about your options to test for allergies and treat and prevent grass allergies. Our Utah allergy doctors are available at 801-328-2522.

Neti pot to irrigate sinus

5 Facts about Neti Pots

Millions of Americans suffer from sinusitis or sinus infections each year. In Utah, we see patients who live with sinus infections year round and they wonder what they can do for sinus relief.

Sinusitis or a sinus infection occurs when the membrane lining of the sinus becomes inflamed. Patients often describe symptoms like a stuffy head, headaches, clogged nasal passages. Some even describe feeling like their head is going to explode. Fortunately, heads don’t explode from sinus infections, so rest easy.

Read: 20 Questions about Sinusitis and Sinus Infections

Sinus infections respond well to antibiotics and decongestants. But many sinusitis sufferers ask us about natural sinus remedies. One of the most popular you’ve likely heard about is a Neti pot. Dr. Oz introduced this natural nasal irrigation solution on the Oprah Winfrey show. Soon Neti pots were flying off the shelves at local drugstores.

But the question remains: does a Neti pot work?

Let’s look at 5 facts about Neti pots.

Fact #1: Neti Pots Work to Drain Clogged Sinuses

Does a Neti pot help drain clogged sinuses? The simple answer is yes, the Neti pot can help drain your sinuses. In fact, many ear, nose and throat doctors recommend Neti pots following sinus surgery and many recommend a Neti pot to help drain clogged sinuses.

Does that mean the Neti pot is the ultimate sinus-clearing solution? Probably not. But it can provide relief for patients with clogged sinuses.

Fact #2: Neti Pots Come from India

There is nothing new about Neti pots or saline nasal irrigation. There is documented use of Neti pots thousands of years ago in ancient Indian history. The idea goes way back yet the goal of nasal irrigation remains the same today: relieve allergy, cold or sinus symptoms by running warm, pure saltwater through one nostril and out the other.

It sounds a little strange, and indeed, the first time you try it, it may feel just as strange as it sounds. We’ve included a video that shows how to use a Neti pot if you want to give this alternative therapy a try.

Watch a video of how to use a Neti pot

Fact #3: Neti Pots Best Used for Temporary Relief

Our patients ask if Neti pots can be used daily. Yes, in the short term. But if you experience lingering sinus infections or inflammation, you may have a sinus issue that should be evaluated by an ear, nose and throat doctor. At the Ear, Nose and Throat Center, our Utah ear, nose and throat doctors look closely at your sinusitis symptoms and recommend the right course of treatment that may include the use of antibiotics, decongestants and sinus surgery, when necessary.

Fact #4: Side Effects Are Limited

Regular use of a Neti pot can trigger side effects in about 10 percent of users. Typical side effects include a stinging sensation within the nose or general nasal irritation. In rare cases, a bloody nose has been observed following use of a Neti pot. But generally speaking, Neti pots have become popular simply because they are viewed as a gentle and affordable way to help deal with clogged sinuses.

If you do encounter side effects, simply reducing the amount of saline in the water can help. Or adjust the water temperature (cold water is a bad idea but too warm can also be a problem). You may also want to adjust how often you use a Neti pot. Make some modifications, then trust your body to point you in the right direction. And if you still have questions, refer to fact #5 below.

Fact #5: Ask Your Doctor if a Neti Pot Is Right For You

Okay, that headline sounds like the disclaimer on your typical prescription drug advertisement. But the advice is sound. If you have questions about your sinuses, sinus infections, Neti pots or any other nose or breathing issues, talk to one of our board-certified ENT doctors in Salt Lake City, Draper and Park City, Utah. We’ll work with you to determine if a Neti pot can help you treat your sinus issues. And we can also diagnose and treat lingering sinus issues.

girl smelling flowers and sneezing

5 Tips to Avoid Allergies in Utah

Allergy season in Utah is in full bloom. For many Salt Lake City allergy sufferers, the season begins in April and lingers through the fall as grass, molds, trees all work through their natural cycles.

Approximately 20 percent of Americans suffer from allergies. During certain weeks, it can feel like everyone you know in Utah suffers from allergies due to itchy or watery eyes, congestion and non-stop sneezing when symptoms go from bad to worse!

At the Ear, Nose and Throat Center of Salt Lake City, we regularly treat our patients in Salt Lake City, Sandy and Park City for allergies. In some cases, simple over-the-counter medicine is the best option. In other cases, allergy shots and treatment are the best course of action.

Dr. John Bennett of the Ear, Nose and Throat Center recommends that anyone who requires medications for more than a month every or spring and fall, consider allergy testing.

“Allergy tests will show exactly what you are allergic to so you can avoid those allergy triggers in the future, and also whether the allergies are bad enough to justify allergy shots or allergy drops,” adds Dr. Bennett. “The good news is that new allergy drops, known as sublingual immunotherapy, offer the convenience of taking drops at home and eliminate the need to get poked with a shot constantly.”

We don’t want you to suffer any more than you have to. So here are 5 Tips to Avoid Allergies. If these don’t work, please contact the Ear, Nose and Throat Center of Salt Lake City to set up an appointment with one of our trained allergy specialists.

1. Stay inside on windy days or when pollen count is high

We realize this seems awfully simple, but sometimes prevention is the best option. For some allergy sufferers, a day spent inside with the windows closed can mean the difference between a frustrating day of sneezing and a comfortable day where you act and feel like a normal person. Pay attention to pollen counts and when they are particularly high. Also, if it’s windy, realize the pollen is filling the air. Stay inside.

2. Keep a clean home and dust regularly

Every home gets dusty. But if you’re an allergy sufferer, a clean home can mean the difference between good and bad health (or at least comfortable and uncomfortable days). One of the most critical places to minimize dust and pollen is your bedroom. Think about it; you spend six or more hours in that one place every day. When it’s dusty, you’ll suffer. When it’s clean, you’ll rest easily.

A few other items to consider eliminating from your bedroom: carpet, down-filled blankets and pillows, and closets filled with clothes you rarely wear. These items are all dust-magnets and, when dirty, proven to provoke allergies.

Ear, Nose and Throat doctor, John Bennett, offers the following recommendations.

“If you suffer from bad allergies, at least make your bedroom an allergy-free zone,” says Dr. Bennett. “That means no pets, and nothing that gathers dust like books and fluffy decorations. The floors should be hard or at least have very thin carpeting. Frequent dusting and vacuuming is a must. The room should be spartan and simply decorated, almost like a hotel room. In other words, eliminate anything that can capture dust that you can’t easily wash.”

3. Wash bedding and clothing often to eliminate dust mites

No one likes the thought of dust mites sharing their home. But if you don’t wash bedding, curtains and clothing regularly in hot water, you may have dust mite squatters in your home. Eliminate them and you’ve improved your likelihood of staying allergy-free. Welcome them into your home and you’ll feel their presence today, tomorrow and, well, you get the picture.

“Bed linens should all be washable and washed regularly,” says Dr. Bennett. “It’s one of the best ways to ensure a clean, allergy-free space.”

4. Use air conditioning instead of opening windows

This can be a tough choice in Utah when hot summer days become delightful and cool summer nights. It’s great to hear the crickets chirping outside your window and opening windows saves on power costs. But your nose and eyes will thank you if you choose to run your air conditioning instead of opening your windows on particularly windy or pollen-filled nights (see tip #1 again). Use your body as a guide; if you feel like your allergies are coming on, close the windows. If you feel like you’re breathing easily and it’s not windy, you might be fine with your windows open.

5. Wear a face mask when you work in the yard

One common allergy trigger from Draper to Salt Lake City is grass. When grass is seeding, it triggers allergies and few triggers are more powerful than mowing your lawn and dumping the clippings in a garbage can. The grass and dust flies and soon your sneezing.

Your grass won’t stop growing (unless you forget to water it; Salt Lake City is located in a desert, after all). But you can fight allergy triggers by wearing a mask when you mow the lawn. Masks are inexpensive and available at grocery stores or Home Depot. Snap it on your face before you work in the yard and you’re well on your way to avoiding allergies. Swap out your mask often, as well. Because a clean mask today will become a dirty mask tomorrow.

Contact an ENT Doctor for Utah Allergy Treatment

Best of luck managing your allergies. And contact the Ear, Nose and Throat Center to explore allergy shots and other treatments if these simple tips don’t do the trick.