Dealing with Headaches: How an ENT Specialist Can Help

Headaches can come about for a number of reasons. A few years ago, I noticed that popping aspirin was not making my headaches go away. After taking a quick look, my doctor referred me to an ear, nose, and throat specialist. What I learned is that my headaches were begin caused by pressure in my sinuses. Even though I did not have any problem breathing, there was an infection that created pressure and caused the throbbing pain. Once the origin of the problem was found, it did not take long to treat the infection, and the headaches went away. If you have been referred to an ENT, do not assume the worst. You will find, as I did, that this type of help can mean resolving an issue that has been causing a lot of discomfort for some time.

Can Adults Suddenly Develop Allergies To Pets?

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You may have had a pet before and had no problems with allergies. But recently, a new furry family member has joined your household, and -- achoo! -- you are having trouble being around the animal without sneezing, sniffling or having your eyes involuntarily water. Could you have developed an allergy to animal dander later in life? 

Although it is somewhat uncommon, pet allergies do develop in adults. In most of these cases, the allergy sufferers went without a pet for some period of time -- for example, they grew up with animals in the home, moved away and lived without animals for early adulthood, then got a pet once they started a family of their own. 

Are Certain Animals More Likely to Cause Allergies?

Your problem may also be related to the individual animal you have. Sometimes it is hard to determine that you have an allergy, because you get a kitten or puppy that produces little dander, and don't realize that the grown animal is the cause of your symptoms.

Some breeds of dog may produce more dander than other varieties, and the amount of hair or shedding doesn't really have an impact. Likewise, the amount or type of hair your cat has isn't a factor, either. Instead, the dander, or tiny pieces of dead skin that sloughs off the pet, is what is more likely to make your nose twitch. In some cases, you may also be allergic to the urine of your pet.

Some people offer anecdotal evidence that pets with darker fur and skin, or male pets instead of female, may cause more allergy issues. There are no scientific studies that show this is a factor across the board. You could be allergic to any type of pet, with any amount of hair. 

What Can You Do to Minimize Your Allergies?

If you already have and love your pet, rehoming the animal is not likely to be your first choice. However, this is the best way to help your allergy symptoms. Finding a new home for the pet can be done carefully and with respect to everyone involved, including the animal, and can help you to feel better. Don't want to give up your pet? Try these compromises:

  • Invest in a whole-house HEPA filtration system. The furnace filters that you can buy at home improvement stores are unlikely to do much to help, nor do single-room filtration. You'll need the type of system that works with your furnace or air conditioning system to filter all the incoming air in order to have an effect
  • Let your pets sleep apart from you. Your allergy symptoms are most likely to show up at night, and having clear, allergen-free air to breathe as you sleep can help you feel better. Keep the dog or cat out of the bedroom at all times and make your bedroom a sanctuary free from pet dander.
  • Have another family member provide grooming and care for the animal. Don't be the one to give the dog a bath or wash the blanket that the kitty sleeps on.

Talk to your allergist or ear, nose and throat specialist about other tactics, including medications, that can help you feel better in the presence of your pet. 

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15 December 2015