Diseases and disorders of the ears, nose, throat, head, and neck negatively impact the lives of millions around the world. Our health information, created by our member physicians, provides a basic overview of diagnoses and treatment for many of these conditions.  
Millions of Americans suffer from nasal allergies, commonly known as hay fever. Often fragrant flowers are blamed for the uncomfortable symptoms, yet they are rarely the cause; their pollens are too heavy to be airborne. An ear, nose, and throat specialist can help determine the substances causing your discomfort and develop a management plan that will help make life more enjoyable.
01.  Why do some people have allergies?
02.  How do I know if I am allergic to cats?
03.  If I'm allergic to tree pollen, can I burn wood in the fireplace?

04.  How do allergy shots work? And, can I learn to give my own shots at home?


01.  Why do some people have allergies?

Allergies involve the immune system. But, the most important reason some people develop allergies and some don't is thought to be heredity. Preventing exposure in early life seems to decrease the risk of allergies. However new research indicates that exposure to dogs in early life seems to enhance the development of the immune system, thus decreasing the risk the child will develop allergies.

Sometimes people say that they never had allergy symptoms until they moved to a new area. Moving to a new area may seem to trigger the immune response, but authorities believe these people already had hereditary tendency toward allergies.

Migraine headaches are not usually thought to be caused by allergies. However, allergies can cause excess sinus moisture which can promote growth of bacteria. This can result in a sinus infection with resulting pressure and sinus headache.

It is unlikely that dizziness or nausea is directly related to allergies. Dizziness and nausea can be caused by a number of things, some possibly serious, and these symptoms should always be reported to your physician 

It is thought that allergies can cause some degree of fatigue. However "trouble sleeping" and "tired all the time" are commonly reported symptoms in every area of medicine. These symptoms should always be reported to your physician, who can do routine testing to see if an underlying medical condition might be causing the problem.

A sore throat with blisters or enlarged lymph nodes in the neck, especially if accompanied by a fever, is usually not a sign of allergies, but rather a bacterial or viral infection. See your physician.

Noise in the ears is known as tinnitus. Allergies can cause sensations of fullness or popping in the ears, this is sometimes considered a symptom of allergies. You should see your physician if you experience tinnitus.

Coughing may be the first sign of asthma, especially in children.

Chronic changes in voice and trouble swallowing should always be checked out by a physician. These usually do not indicate allergies, but can be symptoms of serious conditions.


02.  How do I know if I am allergic to cats?

Most patients who've reacted to cats have reported symptoms ranging from runny nose and itchy eyes to wheezing and shortness of breath when around cats.  Some respiratory symptoms are quite severe, therefore, causing the person to get away from the cats to breathe.

The most prominent reactions to cat allergy are respiratory symptoms. However, some patients do report skin allergies to things that cause them respiratory symptoms.

If your symptoms persist, you should seek medical attention.


03.  If I'm allergic to tree pollen, can I burn wood in the fireplace?

Most medical authorities recognize that smoke is an irritant rather than an allergen.

However, most experts do agree that wood often contains mold as well as dust mites. For persons allergic to these allergens, having wood logs nearby may cause real problems.

Many experts also agree that smoke can trigger an allergy attack, especially in asthmatics. So can perfumes and other irritants. While we may not have an allergy to substances like smoke, perfume, cleaning solutions, pollutants from industry, car exhaust, etc., most all of us are affected by these irritants. For the person who has allergies, their allergic trigger may be more sensitive in air polluted by these common irritants.


Keep wood logs outside until ready to burn.
Change heating/cooling filters regularly.
Have air ducts cleaned by a professional.
Use an air purifier to promote clean air in the indoor environment.
Smokers should be asked to go outside before they light up.
Choose cleaners designed to clean better with fewer chemicals.


04.  How do allergy shots work? And, can I learn to give my own shots at home?

When a person receives an allergy injection, he is taking into his body a substance he is allergic to. The body begins building antibodies to fight this substance. As the dose is increased, the body continues to build more antibodies toward the offending allergen.

It's a delicate balance. Increasing the dose too slowly can delay progress toward enough antibodies to control allergy symptoms. Increasing the dose too fast can cause severe reactions to the shot itself. Your physician will tell you the proper increments of increasing the dose.

However many other factors play a role. Some of these include fever or elevated allergy symptoms before the injection, higher level of exposure to the allergen in the environment, or too long an interval between injections. Any of these can tip the delicate balance and cause a serious systemic reaction to the shot.

A severe reaction can also be caused by human error resulting in a dose that is too strong. Sometimes a severe reaction occurs for no apparent reason.

Some physicians do allow self-administration of injections. It is the responsibility of these physicians or their staff to teach where and how to give the injections. They should also provide verbal and written instructions of when to withhold the injection, when to call the physician for further instructions, and what to do if a reaction occurs. These physicians prescribe an EpiPen to be used in case of severe reactions. Be sure you know when and how to use the EpiPen, and what to do next.  It is very important that your E.N.T. doctor know if you are taking a beta-blocker medication.  Beta-blockers affect allergy symptoms and treatments.  Your doctor will discuss this with you and this may affect your ability to administer your injections at home rather than in a clinical setting.  This is especially true if you also suffer from asthma.


Cape Cod Ear, Nose, & Throat Specialists. Head & Neck Surgery, P.C.
65 Cedar Street, Hyannis, MA 02601
(508) 790-0611