Healthy Geezer: Allergies, sinusitis, hair
Q. What are allergy shots?
Allergy shots, also known as immunotherapy, are a series of scheduled injections meant to desensitize you to specific allergens, which are substances that trigger an allergic response.
The usual schedule is one shot once or twice a week for about three to six months. After that, you’ll need one shot about once a month for three to five years.
Allergy shots are commonly used to treat allergic rhinitis (hay fever) and asthma. Allergy shots may also control allergic reactions to stinging insects, such as bees, yellow jackets, hornets and wasps.
The shots are not effective for food allergies.
Before starting allergy shots, your doctor may use a skin test to confirm that you have allergies and determine which specific allergens cause your signs and symptoms. During the test, a small amount of the suspected allergen is scratched into your skin and the area is then observed for about 20 minutes. Swelling and redness indicate an allergy to the substance.
The shots won’t give you immediate relief. You’ll probably see improvement in the first year of treatment.
The most noticeable improvement often happens during the second year. By the third year, most people are desensitized to the allergens contained in the shots.
For some people, successful treatment leads to a life without allergy symptoms. For others, shots must continue on a long-term basis to keep allergy symptoms at bay.
Q. Can a sinus infection cause a toothache?
Yes. Infection in the sinuses located in your cheekbones can cause your upper jaw and teeth to ache, and your cheeks to become tender to the touch. Sinusitis is a nasty malady that can do much more than give you a toothache.
The sinuses are four pairs of cavities: the frontal sinuses over the eyes, maxillary sinuses inside each cheekbone, ethmoid sinuses behind the bridge of the nose, and sphenoid sinuses behind the ethmoids. Each sinus is connected to the nose.
Most cases of acute sinusitis start with a cold or allergy attack, which inflames the mucous membranes of the sinuses. Swelling traps air and mucus in the sinuses and they cannot drain properly. The trapped mucus creates ideal conditions for bacteria to grow.
Most people with sinusitis have pain or tenderness. Other symptoms of sinusitis can include fever, weakness, fatigue, nasal congestion, cough and sore throat.
If you have acute sinusitis, your doctor may prescribe decongestants, antibiotics and pain relievers. Many cases of acute sinusitis will end without antibiotics.
Q. Is there anything I can do to keep the hair I’ve got?
There are a few steps you can take to preserve your hair:
1. Avoid tight hairstyles that pull on the hair. So, forget braids, ponytails, cornrows and tight hair rollers. The pulling causes some hair loss, especially along the sides of the scalp. This type of hair loss is called traction alopecia. If the pulling scars the scalp, it can cause permanent hair loss.
2. Brushing or combing too much can break hair, so keep them to a minimum. Use combs with wide teeth and brushes with smooth tips. Wet hair is more fragile than dry hair, so show care when you do your hair after a shower.
3. Shampooing too often is bad for your hair. Use a cream rinse or conditioner after shampooing to make it easier to comb. And don’t dry your hair by rubbing it with a towel.
4. Don’t use hot-oil hair treatments or chemicals in permanents. These may cause inflammation of the hair follicles, which can lead to hair loss.
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All Rights Reserved © 2019 Fred Cicetti
The Times News, Inc., and affiliates (Lehigh Valley Press) do not endorse or recommend any medical products, processes, or services or provide medical advice. The views of the columnist and column do not necessarily state or reflect those of the Lehigh Valley Press. The article content is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician with questions regarding a medical condition.