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March 24, 2016
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What are Allergies?

Allergies are an immune response or reaction to a usually harmless substance in the environment.  Allergies are fairly common and can cause a runny nose, sneezing, itching, rashes, swelling, asthma, headaches, and sinus pain.  Symptoms will vary.

How do you get Allergies?

Scientists think both genes and the environment have something to do with getting allergies. Normally, your immune system fights germs, but in most allergic reactions your immune system is responding to a false alarm.

Allergies can also be inherited. Studies show that if one of your parents had allergies, you have a 50% chance of becoming allergic. If both of your parents have allergies, your chance of developing allergies is as high as 80%.

What Causes Allergies?

The air you breathe contains small particles which can cause allergies. The type of particles in the air will vary according to your location, the time of year, and moisture in your environment.

Common causes of inhalant allergies are pollens (trees, weeds, and grasses), house dust particles, mold spores, animal hair and dander, and insect particles. People who have allergies are often sensitive to more than one thing.

Foods can also cause allergic reactions but usually produce different symptoms such as cramps, vomiting, and diarrhea.

Substances you touch can cause allergic reactions and are usually evident in the form of a rash on parts of your body.

Identifying Allergies

The signs and symptoms for some allergies are sneezing spells, a runny nose with profuse watery discharge, nasal congestion, and itching of the nose and eyes. The person usually has swollen nasal passages, reddened eyes with swollen eyelids, excessive tearing, and headache or sinus pain. Some allergy sufferers also complain of an itchy throat and a general ill feeling called Malaisa.

Typically a person with allergic rash has small, flat, purple skin blotches of varying size which are caused by dilation of blood vessels in the skin. These blotches usually appear on the arms and legs and are accompanied by itching, prickling, and tingling. Swelling may sometimes occur elsewhere on the body, such as on the face, hands, feet, or genitals.

Try to identify the trigger of the situation which led to the symptoms. Ask yourself a few questions:

  • Where did the reaction occur (i.e. work, home, park, new surroundings, etc.)?
  • Were you inside or outside?
  • Were you eating or drinking?
  • Were there any animals or insects near you?
  • Were you wearing something new?
  • Did you use a new soap or detergent?

A physician can perform an allergy test to see if you have a variety of common allergens. Once the allergen has been identified, manage your allergies by following some tips:

  • Avoid allergens when possible
  • Avoid tobacco smoke and other irritants
  • Use medication as prescribed
  • See a doctor regularly
  • Stay healthy

How Can Your Allergies Be Treated?

Some allergies can be treated by avoiding exposure to the allergen. However, this isn’t always effective so medications such as antihistamines, oral decongestants, nasal sprays, and bronchodilators may be used in controlling your allergic symptoms. Over time medication may not be as effective, so patients have turned to immunotherapy to reduce their symptoms.


Immunotherapy, commonly referred to as “allergy injections,” is a program designed to desensitize you to those substances to which you are allergic. After several months of weekly injections of increasingly stronger doses you will reach a maintenance dose and continue to receive that dose at regular intervals. The size of doses and length of intervals between doses depends greatly on your response to the injections. Typically, an immunotherapy treatment plan is about 3-5 years.

Sublingual Immunotherapy Drops

Sublingual immunotherapy drops work in a similar way as the injection—except the patient can administer the drops in the convenience of their home without the injection.

An ongoing program of avoidance, medication, immunotherapy, or a combination of these methods, under the direct supervision of your doctor, is the best approach to controlling your allergies and allowing you to live more comfortably in your surroundings. 

Your ear hurts with a dull, throbbing, heavy pain. Or maybe it’s a sharp, sudden pain—almost like someone is trying to drill a hole through your ear. When you visit a doctor they will most likely diagnose your symptoms as an ear infection. However, how can you tell if your six-month-old child has an ear infection? What do you do if your child has an ear infection?

Ear Infections

            The ear is made up of three parts; the outer ear (which is the part of your ear you see), the middle ear (the part right behind your ear drum), and the inner ear (where the cochlea is located, which converts sound vibrations into electrical signals). Ear infections occur when bacteria gets caught in the middle ear behind the ear drum, often after a cold or other upper respiratory sickness. Children are more likely to get ear infections than adults for a couple reasons; their immune systems are not as developed and their ears have more narrow and horizontal Eustachian tubes which can get inflamed easily and prevent drainage. Eustachian tubes are the tubes that connect the ear with the throat.

Symptoms in Children


            Most children who get ear infections are very young; in fact, most children will have had at least one ear infection by the time they’re three years old. If your child is too young to tell you that their ear hurts, watch for these common symptoms to know if your child has an ear infection.

  • Tugging on the ear
  • Irritability/Fussiness
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Fever
  • Recent cold, flu, or other upper respiratory illness
  • Fluid draining from the ear
  • Problems with balance
  • Trouble hearing quiet sounds

Symptoms in Adults

  • Ear pain
  • Drainage from the ear
  • Trouble hearing

When to See a Doctor

            Some ear infections will improve without any medical help. However, if your ear pain has persisted for more than 24 hours or your child has recently had a cold, give our office a call. One of the doctors in our office will look into you or your child’s ear with a medical instrument called a pneumatic otoscope. This instrument allows the doctor to see behind the ear drum to gauge how much fluid is trapped there. If it is determined that your child has an ear infection, the doctor may prescribe an antibiotic to help the ear infection leave as soon as possible.

            If you experience sudden hearing loss without pain, do not wait to see a doctor. Sudden hearing loss may be an indication of a more severe condition that needs to be treated right away.

Recurring Ear Infections

            If your child experiences several ear infections every year, Dr. Peterson or Dr. McMaster may recommend a surgical procedure that puts a ventilation tube into the ear to improve drainage.

            It’s no fun to live in pain. Give our office a call today if you think you or your child has an ear infection!


            Previously we’ve discussed sore throats, some of their causes, and home remedies. But you may be thinking, “I’ve tried everything and my sore throat just won’t go away. What else can I do?” Maybe you’ve had tonsillitis several times in the past year. Or maybe you have difficulty breathing at night. If this is the case, a tonsillectomy—a surgical procedure to remove the tonsils—may be necessary. Discover more about tonsillectomies here!

What are Tonsils?

            Tonsils are oval-shaped tissue located at the back of the throat. Their main responsibility is to help fight infection; you can consider the tonsils the body’s first defense between the germs in the air and your throat. However, sometimes the tonsils get infected—also known as tonsillitis—and cause inflammation and pain. If you or your child experiences recurrent tonsillitis, inability to breathe at night (sleep apnea), or difficulty swallowing meats or chewy foods Dr. Peterson or Dr. McMaster may suggest a tonsillectomy.

What is a Tonsillectomy?

            A tonsillectomy is a surgical procedure in which the tonsils are removed. Tonsillectomies are performed with the patient under general anesthesia, which means that you or your child will not be conscious and won’t feel any pain during the surgery. Additionally, an anesthesiologist will be present to monitor you during the surgery.  Tonsillectomies are done through the mouth and no incisions are made on the skin.

What's the Recovery Process Like?

            The recovery process typical takes from anywhere between 7-10 days. During the recovery process it is very important to stay hydrated. Water, juice, and popsicles are a good choice to get the necessary fluids.

    Your throat will be sore, so be sure to eat bland, soft, and easy to swallow foods like applesauce, chicken noodle soup, and mashed potatoes for the first several days. The only real diet restriction after this surgery is no hard, crunchy, or scratchy foods, as eating these can scratch the scabs off the back of the throat and cause bleeding.

    Also, be sure to get plenty of rest after the surgery. Avoid activities like running, heavy lifting, and other strenuous activities for at least seven days as this may increase bleeding.

    It is also very important to stay on your pain medication and take it as directed by your doctor to keep the pain under control.

    We hope you feel more informed about this procedure! If you have any additional questions, feel free to give our office a call.

Looking for relief from a sore throat? Dr. Peterson and Dr. McMaster recommend these home remedies for sore throats. Give them a try!

Honey and Lemon

  • 1 cup of warm water
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon of lemon juice

Mix together the warm water, honey and lemon juice. Drink the mixture as often as needed.

Salt Water

Gargling with salt water helps relieve pain and reduce swelling.


  • 1 cup of warm water (8 oz.)
  • ½ teaspoon of table salt

Gargle and spit. Do not use more than 3 times daily.


Dr. McMaster and Dr. Peterson both highly recommend Alkolol, a blend of natural ingredients that includes menthol, eucalyptol, wintergreen, spearmint, pine, and cinnamon. If you have discomfort from a cold, sinus infection, or recent nasal surgery, Alkolol will relieve some of your pain. It can be used as a spray in your nose or as a gargle. Follow package directions.


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