“Allergic rhinitis” is the medical term for allergy affecting the mucous membrane of the nose.  Seasonal allergic rhinitis is often called hay fever, while year-round nasal allergy is called perennial allergic rhinitis.  People with allergic rhinitis often feel that their problem is sinus trouble, though as described below the sinuses become secondarily involved due to the nasal swelling.  Most people develop allergic rhinitis before age 40, though it can come on at any age.  An estimated 13 million Americans suffer from hay fever.

Symptoms:  Allergic rhinitis can cause many symptoms, including stuffy nose, postnasal drip, sneezing, red/itchy and watery eyes, swollen eyelids, itching of the mouth/throat/ears and face, sore throat, dry cough, feelings of fullness and buzzing in the ears, partial loss of the senses of hearing, smell, and taste, and headaches.  Seasonal allergic rhinitis can cause more general symptoms, such as fatigue.

Allergic rhinitis is often mistaken for a cold, but whenever the symptoms occur repeatedly throughout the year, allergy should be suspected.  The discharge from the nose in allergic rhinitis is usually thin and clear, whereas with a cold, it is usually thicker and yellowish due to infection.  Unfortunately, when the membrane of the nose becomes irritated by allergy, it is easier for germs and viruses to invade and multiply making it common for a person to have both allergic rhinitis and infection.

Persons with allergic rhinitis often have dark circles under their eyes.  This is due to pooling of blood upstream from the congested nasal area.  To relieve an itchy nose, children, especially, may develop the habit of pushing the nose up with the palm of the hand.  After a few years, this can cause a crease to appear across the nose.  Also, the mid-part of the nose may broaden from the pressure of swollen tissue underneath.  The mouth may be open continually so the person can breathe better.  Children may develop a variety of other mannerisms, which parents find annoying, but which are caused by allergies.

Symptoms classically occur in the spring (tree and grass pollen) or summer/fall (weed pollen), but here in Florida the pollinating seasons are much longer.  Grass pollen, for instance is present nearly year round.  Symptoms due to outdoor mold are worse in the fall, whereas house dust, indoor molds and animal dander produce year round problems.

The holidays might be past, but it’s still very much ‘Tis The Season for Allergies

People often think that allergy problems are year round in Florida since we lack the four seasons common to life up north. Well, that is partially correct. We do have much longer periods of plant pollination, such that in nearly every month of the year something is putting off airborne pollen. And with the high…

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Ouch! Stinging Insect Allergies

INSECT ALLERGIES: Entomology is the field of science that studies insects. The insects important to the allergist represent only a few of the over 16,000 species in North America, making up the order Hymenoptera. These stinging Hymenoptera insects do have some positive features, being effective pollinators of plant life and predators of a wide variety of pest species….

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Ouch! Fire Ant Reactions

INSECT ALLERGIES: The fire ant is a year-round threat here in Florida. Fire ants build subterranean nests with as many as 230,000 insects in residence. When the nest is disturbed, the ants attack in mass and repeatedly sting their victim. Allergic reactions are the result of a specific immune response to the venom injected into…

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Working with Allergy Shots

Once you have reached the highest dose, or maintenance shot, you will receive allergy injections every 2 to 4 weeks depending upon your symptom response. You will be re-evaluated by Dr. Windom 6 months after starting treatment and annually after that time. You should notice improvement in your symptoms by 18 months or shots will…

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Allergy shots are highly effective, but they take time!

IMMUNOTHERAPY (ALLERGY SHOTS): Hyposensitization or “allergy shots” are given to certain selected patients to immunize them against allergens that account for their symptoms. Many allergic patients do not need allergy shots for resolution or treatment of their symptoms. Medications and/or environmental changes are frequently sufficient to control symptoms in these individuals. The only patients who…

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WOC docs train new docs, treat Veterans for free

The next time you go to the James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital Allergy and Immunology Clinic, the doctor you see may be working for free. A group of five physicians leave their private practices to volunteer at the clinic without compensation one to two days a month to treat Veterans and to help train allergy…

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