What's Going Around: ear infections, allergy/sinus headaches, seasonal food allergies

What's Going Around: ear infections, allergy/sinus headaches, seasonal food allergies

Trees and grasses in Southwest Louisiana are in full bloom, releasing tiny particles into the air and causing many people to find relief indoors. Ear, nose and throat physician, Dr. Brad Lebert, explains the three common conditions he is treating right now at ENT & Allergy Clinic in Lake Charles.

Allergies are causing much more than watery eyes, runny noses and sneezing. There is an increase this time of year in the number of ear infections connected to allergies. "It causes inflammation and swelling at the back of the nose," said Dr. Lebert, "there's a natural connection between the back of the nose and the ear called the Eustachian tube and that's the root of the problem with allergies when it comes to ear infections. You get swelling at the back of the nose that blocks that tube which can lead to a fluid build-up that then becomes infected."

The treatment of ear infections centers on draining the middle ear space. A nasal saline solution or nasal steroid like Nasacort can also help.

Headaches linked to allergies and sinuses are also common this time of year. "When you talk about headaches, what you're talking about is blockage of the natural drainage portions of the sinuses," said Dr. Lebert, "the sinuses are air-filled cavities within our head and so what happens whenever the natural drainage gets blocked, you get a build up of pressure or fluids that then leads to headache."

An allergy trigger could be what you are putting on your plate.  Certain foods can cause reactions, especially during pollen season. "If you're allergic to grasses, things like wheat, barley, melons, those types of things at this time of year will cause you increasing nasal congestion and allergic symptoms even though you're not truly allergic to the food," said Dr. Lebert.

The only way to know exactly what you are allergic to is to undergo allergy testing. Those results can be used to help get a treatment and prevention plan that is form-fitted to your needs.

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