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First time poster concerning my allergy history

Hello everyone.  First time posting here.  My name is John and I just wanted to see if anyone could offer any suggestions as to my issues with allergies.

I really don't have the typical allergy symptoms such as itchy watery eyes or sinus pressure or pain, the only real symptom I have is congestion and a very stuffy nose.

I also have a problem breathing.  It seems as though I have to force myself to continuously yawn and to gulp for air from the pit of my stomach in order to feel as though I'm breathing normally.

I'm thinking that the breathing problems may be anxiety or panic attack attack related, although I have been to an allergist and was tested for allergies and was found to have allergies to various things, so it's not all anxiety related.

My physical problems also seem to be worse at different times of the year and they are definitely worse when the weather is humid and the dew point is high.  We run a dehumidifier but that really doesn't seem to help.

The allergist has put me on allergy shots and prescribed an antihistamine along with a nasal spray.  The antihistamine caused severe dry mouth and constipation and didn't work all that well either.  The nasal spray didn't help much either.

All these problems have caused me to not be able to sleep very well so my PCP prescribed trazodone and that really helped me get some sleep but I'm concerned about depending on it too much.

I've also been to an ENT doctor.  He had CT scans taken of my sinuses which came back normal.  He said he was amazed that I didn't have sinus inflamation.  He didn't think it was a sinus infection, but he did think it was an inflamation issue.

He also checked for nasal polyps and didn't see any.  He put me on another allergy drug and if that doesn't work in a week or so, he wants to do a procedure where he inserts a balloon up my nose and inflate it to open me up I guess.  Anyone ever have this done?

Anyways, I apologize for the long post, hopefully I haven't worn out my welcome already.

Thanks for listening…

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  • K8sMom2002

    Hi, Johnrandolph, and welcome! Sounds like you have had a frustrating time of it!

    When it comes to figuring out breathing problems and anxiety, it's definitely a chicken-and-egg thing: is a person anxious because he can't breathe? Or he can't breathe because he's anxious? Or it is both feeding on one another?

    It sounds like your doctors have been patient and persistent, and that's good. It also sounds like you've been tracking what makes your symptoms worse and what improves them. That's a super idea!

    Since congestion is the biggest complaint and your antihistamine gave you side effects that you couldn't tolerate, could you talk to your doctor about a simple decongestant?

    My sick plan for asthma involves going OFF antihistamines if I have congestion and going ON OTC decongestants like Sudafed. My doctor says it promotes drainage and reduces (for me) the chance of a secondary sinus infection and then the sure-to-follow asthma flare. 

    Other things to consider: I've talked to my doctor about simple remedies like saline sprays, eating hot and spicy soups (like Chinese hot and sour soup) and using OTC remedies like Vicks Vapo Rub to help with severe congestion when it strikes. None of these is a silver bullet, but each helps a bit. In fact, I used to head for Chinese hot and sour soup the moment I started feeling the least bit congested!

    You've tried a dehumidifier, but what about an air purifier/cleaner if some of your allergens are, say, pollen or dust mites or pet dander? I believe there are units that actually dehumidify and clean the air at the same time. 

    There are several air cleaners that are certified by the The asthma & allergy friendly™ Certification Program. Quoting here on the The asthma & allergy friendly™ Certification Program:

    The asthma & allergy friendly™ Certification Program, administered by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) in partnership with the international research organization, Allergy Standards Limited (ASL), is an independent program created to scientifically test and identify consumer products that are more suitable for people with asthma and allergies. You can find certified products and services such as carpet cleaning, flooring, vacuums and more at 

  • johnrandolph

    K8SMOM2002,

    Thanks for the welcome and the helpful suggestions.  I really appreciate it.

    I have tried some of your suggestions such as decongestants.  I tried Sudafed and I tried Allegra D and neither helped that much.

    I've also tried the saline spray which gives very temporary relief, but I'll take any relief I can get.

    I have also used the Vicks Vapo rub and it also helped a little.  Haven't tried the hot and spicy soups yet, or the air purifier/cleaner, which I will definitely try very shortly.

    Again, thanks for taking the time to post and offer suggestions.

    Any and all are welcome……..

  • K8sMom2002

    Glad to have helped even a little! One reason my doc likes the saline spray is that you can use it as often as you need to – some of our folks here actually take it a step further and use a  with either a Neti pot or other device. I think @Jen does, as does @Brian Cushing. Hopefully one of them will see that I've tagged them and hop on to give you some of their ideas.

  • Jen

    Hi Johnrandolph,

    Welcome to AAFA's support forums.  Like Cynthia mentioned, I use a sinus rinse when I'm congested. It helps a lot, often enough that I don't need to use other decongestants.  NeilMed offers a neti pot, sinus rinse bottle and several other options.  I have tried the neti pot in the past, but find that the sinus rinse bottle (where you use filtered water, along with the saline packet) is most user-friendly.  Currently, the bottle I have is from Ayr (simply because that was what was available the last time I purchased one.)  

    Also, if you're not getting relief, I would continue to pursue things with your doctors.  It can be a matter of trial and error before you find what will work for you.

  • johnrandolph

    Hi Jen,

    Thanks for the information.  I will definitely look into the neti pot.

    Yeah, I will keep up to date with all doctors.

    Thanks again…..

  • Shea

    What are your allergies?

    I have severe allergies and a severe chronic allergic disease called churg-strauss syndrome, so I am not a typical case. BUT avoiding my triggers has been tremendously helpful in getting my disease under control. My main trigger is cat and dog dander, and moving out of a home with cats and dogs was tremendous, alongvwith realizing HOW allergic I was to even secondhand exposure to dander carried on people's clothes and belongings. Creating a sanctuary in my home that minimizes allergic triggers has really helped me. I have no cats/dogs, I have air purifiers, hepa vacuums, and I follow the weekly hot water washing of sheets, pillow cases, and curtains, as well as using zippered covers on pillows and mattresses… that is helpful for dust mites and molds that are hard to keep out of homes. 

    I still have diffuculty with asthma and allergies, and am on heavier medications than most, but when I keep up my game on doingbthe above, I am able to lower on medications and make progress with my disease.

  • johnrandolph

    Hi Shea,

    According to my skin test that the allergist did, I am allergic to:

    Orchard Grass, Timothy, English Plantain, Dock Sorrel, Dust Mite DP only, Dust Mite DF only and lastly, cat.

    Wow! That's some regiment you follow.  I will use some of this strategy to try to get my issues under control.  

    What's funny though, in my previous skin test over 10 years ago, I was also allergic to mold spores and I think dust also, but apparently now I'm not, although if I get anywhere near mold, my ears ring and I get really stuffed up.  So, who knows.

    Anyways, 

    Thanks for your input…..

  • K8sMom2002

    John, AAFA has a great resource on  and . And the  is a great resource for getting pollen reports about your general area if you live in the continental US. 

    As for why you tested positive to mold before and don't now … hmh, that sounds like a great question for your doctor! I know with food allergy tests, there's a high rate of false positives, but I'm not sure about environmental allergy tests. I seem to dimly recall that it doesn't have as high a rate of false positives.

  • Melissa G

    @johnrandolph - how are you doing? Have you had any follow up appointments with your doctor?

  • Shea

    Hi JohnRandolph! It is goid to know some of your allergies and triggers for sure. Do you practice any avoidance strategies? 

    I do worse in humid weather too … I have read molds and dusts thrive in higher humidity, and pollens can be carried in storms and exascperate symtoms (there is a whole phenonena about that i think it is called thunderstorm asthma). And, like you, I have also tested positive to molds then negative later– but I know I am allergic to them still, and avoid them as much as possible.

    Cat dander is a crummy allergy because it is sticky stuff due to its molecule shape, so it sticks onto owner's clothing, and also it is made of small particles so it can float through the air pretty well. There are studies of preschoolers with allergies/ asthma having significantly worse symptoms when they have more cat-owners in their class (secondhand exposure does affect a lot of allergy-sufferers–abd it took me a while to put those 2 and 2 together… But it can also happen in workplaces so it is good to know). 

    I just ordered a my pur mist and I am waiting for it to be delivered  

    I am hoping doing a steam with it before bed will help me wake up less stuffy because this pollen season has been getting to me. I will let you know how it goes. 

    But the cleaning regimen is just something I have developed over time (it takes time just to shop for zippered encasements, and allergy sprays, and then do the extra eashing and decluttering. But they really do help and when I slack on them I end up feeling way worse–so I  know it is worth it for me personally. 

    I used to flare up when cleaning–especially vacuuming– but since I got a better vacuum cleaner, I am not breaking out and asthma atrack every time I clean now.