Author Archives: Center for Allergy and Sinus

sinus infection treatment in houston tx

Many medical conditions have very similar symptoms, making them difficult to distinguish between. This is one of the many reasons why plugging your symptoms into WebMD often leads you to believe you are dying, rather than the much less serious alternative.

Seasonal allergies and a sinus infection are hard to distinguish between, especially in Houston, Texas. Fortunately, this is why you have a trusted allergist.

Seasonal Allergies

Seasonal allergies, also known as hay fever, is a condition in which your nasal passages become swollen and inflamed. Symptoms are caused by an immune system response to pollen from trees, grasses and weeds; dust mites; mold and fungi spores and smoke or pollution.

Symptoms of seasonal allergies

  • Sneezing
  • Watery eyes
  • Itchiness (nose, throat and eyes)
  • Runny/stuffy nose
  • Sinus pain and pressure

Sinus Infection

A sinus infection, also known as sinusitis, is an inflammation and swelling of the tissues that line the sinuses. This interferes with normal mucus drainage, leading to breathing difficulties, pain and pressure.

A sinus infection is often caused by an infection brought on by a cold or allergies, but may also be the result of nasal polyps, a deviated septum, trauma to the face, hay fever, complications from immune system disorders or tumors.

Common Sinus Infection symptoms

  • Nasal congestion and discharge
  • Postnasal drip
  • Sore throat
  • Facial pressure and swelling
  • Loss of smell and taste
  • Headache
  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Bad breath

In order to determine what condition you are suffering from, your physician will review your list of symptoms and perform a physical exam. The difference between these two conditions can be boiled down into two questions:

Is your sinus congestion accompanied by watery or itchy eyes?

Do you have a headache, pressure or pain in the face and chronic fatigue?

Watery or itchy eyes will lead your doctor to determine that you are suffering from seasonal allergies, while pain or pressure in the face combined with a headache and fatigue is usually an indication that you have a sinus infection.

The reason it is important to figure out what is causing your symptoms is because that will shape your treatment plan.

Antihistamines, decongestants and nasal or oral corticosteroids are used to treat seasonal allergies. Immunotherapy is an option for long-term relief of these symptoms.

Treatment for a sinus infection depends on the infection’s severity. Saline nasal sprays and corticosteroids are useful for rinsing your nasal passages and relieving inflammation. Decongestants are a good short-term solution, but extended use can actually worsen the condition. Antibiotics are usually prescribed for bacterial infections.

If you are experiencing these symptoms, now is the time to do something about it. Contact your Houston physician to schedule an appointment today.

The number of things you can be allergic to seems to grow every day. Most of us had never even heard of a gluten allergy until a friend started talking about how much better they feel since they cut it out of their diet.

Common Allergy Treatment in Houston TX

The following are the most common types of allergies. Each type has its own set of symptoms, which can range from mild to life threatening. The severity and range of symptoms experienced depend on your sensitivity and the amount of allergens involved.

Seasonal Allergies

This is a broad term typically used to refer to allergies to molds and pollens from different trees, grasses and ragweed. Since plants in Houston, Texas grow and flower at different times of the year and molds grow better in different weather conditions, you may only experience symptoms during certain seasons. Typically, you will experience:

  • Runny nose
  • Nasal congestion
  • Watery, red or itchy eyes
  • Sneezing
  • Coughing
  • Itchy nose and roof of the mouth
  • Postnasal drip
  • Fatigue

These symptoms are very similar to the common cold. The major difference is that a cold will include a low-grade fever and last only a week.

Pet Allergies

Allergies to dogs and cats are the most common pet allergy. You are not allergic to the animal itself; rather, you are allergic to the allergens the animal produces. These allergens are usually found in the animal’s hair, dander, saliva and urine. Common symptoms to these allergens are:

  • Sneezing
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Facial pain
  • Coughing
  • Chest tightness
  • Shortness of breath and wheezing
  • Watery, red or itchy eyes
  • Skin rash or hives

Insect Sting Allergy

An allergy to insect stings goes far beyond the pain associated with the stings themselves. Typical symptoms of this type of allergy include:

  • Swelling
  • Redness
  • Flushing
  • Hives
  • Itching

A life threatening reaction called anaphylaxis can also occur. Anaphylaxis typically includes trouble breathing, vomiting, low blood pressure, fainting and cardiac arrest. An immediate injection of epinephrine (adrenaline) is the only treatment for this reaction.

Honeybees, hornets, wasps, yellow jackets and fire ants are the five known insects to cause an allergic reaction. Anyone who has experienced a reaction to a sting in the past is at risk of experiencing a worse reaction in the future.

Food Allergies

While any food has the potential to cause an allergic reaction, there are eight foods that account for almost 90 percent of all food allergies: peanuts, tree nuts, milk, eggs, soy, wheat, fish and shellfish.

The symptoms of food allergies can range from mild to life threatening. Mild symptoms include:

  • Hives
  • Itchy mouth
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Htomach pain
  • Sneezing

Severe symptoms include swelling of the lips, tongue and/or throat, shortness of breath and turning blue. Any one of these severe symptoms or a combination of mild symptoms can be the sign of a life-threatening reaction called anaphylaxis. In the event of this reaction, epinephrine should be administered and the patient should be taken to the hospital immediately.

Drug Allergies

This type of allergy is one of the hardest for Houston allergists to predict. Often, individuals will be fine with a medication and then have a reaction the next time they take it.

Penicillin and antibiotics containing sulfa drugs are the most likely to cause an allergic reaction. The symptoms of a drug allergy can range from a mild skin reaction and itching to more severe wheezing, vomiting or anaphylaxis.

This is just a sampling of the variety of allergies that exist. For more information, contact your local Houston allergist.

Allergies treatment Houston TX
Allergies are extremely common, affecting about one in every five Houston residents. Understanding what causes them—and which particular allergens are responsible for triggering your symptoms—is the key to successful immunotherapy treatment through sublingual therapy or allergy shots.

Your immune system

The immune system functions as the body’s first line of defense against germs and bacteria. This system allows your body to maintain good health and prevent infections.

When the immune system encounters a foreign substance that is seen as a threat, it responds by attacking that substance. In cases of infection or disease, this is a positive thing; in other cases, like allergic reactions, it is not.

Allergies are an exaggerated immune system response to what should be considered a harmless substance.

Allergic reactions are the result of antibodies that trigger the release of histamines —chemicals that enter the bloodstream and cause swelling, inflammation, itchiness and mucus production—the telltale signs of an allergic response. Histamines may also cause a rash or hives.

Allergy Causes

For people in Houston, allergies may occur seasonally or year-round in. Pollens from trees, grasses and weeds are common allergens that cause hay fever in many individuals.

Year-round allergens in Houston include animal dander, dust mites, mold, medications, chemicals and insect bites. Allergy sufferers experience a variety of cold-like symptoms including congestion, runny nose, sneezing, itchiness, postnasal drip, watery eyes and sinus pain or pressure.

Allergy Treatments

If you suffer from allergies in Houston, visiting a physician at an allergy clinic can help! Over-the-counter medications such as antihistamines and decongestants are only a temporary solution, as these medications cover up symptoms rather than actually reduce them. Allergy medications are not a cure for allergies, and their effectiveness is limited.

If you want a long-term solution for allergy management, you should schedule an appointment with a Houston allergist. Specialty clinics provide skin testing to determine the allergen(s) responsible for your symptoms, which is an important first step in finding an allergy treatment that will work for your individual needs.

Immunotherapy (allergy shots or sublingual drops) is an effective method that helps reduce the severity of allergy symptoms over time by helping your body build up immunity to the offending substance.

If you’re tired of dealing with the misery allergies bring, contact an allergist today. We are here to help and can offer the relief you need for a healthy and happy life.

Summer allergies treatment  Houston TX

Summer is here! The birds are chirping, the bugs are buzzing and the flowers are blooming. While many of us associate seasonal allergies with spring, they are actually just as much of a problem during the summer months.

Common Summer Allergy Symptoms

Common symptoms of seasonal allergies include nasal congestion, sneezing, runny nose, itchy eyes and throat, watery eyes and postnasal drip. In order to find relief, your Houston allergy doctor will first need to determine what you are allergic to through a series of allergy tests.

Allergy Triggers

Many of the same allergy triggers from spring are responsible for your headache and stuffy nose in the summer.


he #1 cause of allergy symptoms is pollen. While tree pollen has usually come and gone by the end of spring, grasses and weeds are going strong. There are a wide variety of weeds and grasses, the most common include:


  • Ragweed
  • Cockleweed
  • Pigweed
  • Russian thistle
  • Sagebrush
  • Tumbleweed


  • Bermuda
  • Blue grasses
  • Orchard
  • Red top
  • Sweet vernal
  • Timothy


Insects are synonymous with summer. The most serious allergic reactions occur from the sting/bite of the following: yellow jackets, honeybees, paper wasps, hornets and fire ants.

While the insect stings themselves can cause mild symptoms like swelling or itching, those who are allergic can experience a severe reaction called anaphylaxis. This potentially fatal reaction can cause swelling in the throat and breathing difficulties.

Symptoms may develop within seconds of exposure and include abdominal pain, dizziness, nausea, rapid pulse, heart palpitations, inflammation of the face and eyes and mental confusion.


Know what else besides you loves the warm air of summer? Mold!

Mold and the toxins it secretes are what cause allergic reactions. Common symptoms are headaches, feelings of nausea and asthma complications.

Stachybotrys is a black, sticky, slimy fungus that is often found in homes and older office buildings. Since it needs water to grow it is found around water pipes, in the walls around plumbing or near areas moistened by a leaky roof.

Summer allergies are treated like other season allergies – with avoidance, medication or immunotherapy.

To find out more about the best treatments for your summer allergies, contact your Houston allergy doctor today.

Allergy Experts Agree—EpiPens Last Past Their Expiration Date

A new study from the University of California, San Diego found that expired EpiPen auto-injectors can still be used in emergency situations. As anyone with a severe allergy can attest, having an EpiPen on hand is crucial, as it is the only treatment to anaphylaxis, a life-threatening allergic reaction.

EpiPen auto injector in Houston

What Causes an Allergic Reaction?

Allergy experts in Houston, Texas explain an allergy as an exaggerated response from your immune system to a normally harmless substance. Your immune system is your body’s first line of defense against germs and bacteria; it is essential in maintaining your health and preventing infections. Your immune system is comprised of:

  • Cells
  • Proteins
  • Tissues
  • Organs

When a threat is detected, the immune system responds by attacking the substances that are invading the body. Antibodies – proteins designed to protect against foreign invaders – are produced during this attack. These trigger the release of chemicals called histamines, which are responsible for these telltale symptoms of an allergic reaction:

  • Swelling
  • Inflammation
  • Itching
  • Mucus Production.

The epinephrine, also known as adrenaline, in auto-injectors is a hormone that helps relax muscles. In the event of an allergic reaction, the epinephrine can open airways and reduce swelling.

New Allergy Research About Expired Epipens Was Needed

Over the past 10 years, the price of auto-injection devices has gone up 400 percent. Because of this, researchers began looking into how long after the expiration date the injectors actually lasted.

The study conducted by Dr. Lee Cantrell found that EpiPens Jrs. contained at least 90 percent of epinephrine 29 months after their expiration date and EpiPens contained 84 percent 50 months after. That’s more than four years past the printed expiration date.

This study confirmed what many patients are already doing, saving expired EpiPens. While this study is not suggesting that you should stop purchasing new auto-injectors when your current one expires, it is simply giving patients an additional option. Expired auto-injectors can be saved and used in an emergency situation.

All allergy experts agree, in an emergency situation, an expired epinephrine is better than nothing at all.

For more information on the use of EpiPen auto-injectors, contact your Houston allergist.

How to Get Relief From Allergies or a Cold

Have you ever had the classic internal debate “is this is just allergies or am I getting a cold?”

Turns out, there are a few key differences to help you figure it out.

Allergies in Houston

Do You Have Allergies or a Cold

A cold is caused by a viral infection. In order to protect you from the virus, your body’s immune system releases white blood cells.

This causes an increase in mucous production and leads to your nose and throat becoming inflamed. You will become tired because your body is using up a lot of energy fighting the virus.

Allergies are different. An allergic reaction is caused by your body mistaking a harmless substance (such as pollen) for something dangerous and attacking it. The sneezing and coughing you experience with allergies are caused by your body trying to fight off the allergen.

Colds are contagious and usually last for three to 14 days. They come with a cough, sore throat and a runny nose. Often they are accompanied by aches and fatigue. Itchy, watery eyes and a fever rarely occur.

Allergies are not contagious and can last as long as you are in contact with what you are allergic to. Itchy, watery red eyes and a runny or stuffy nose are common with allergies. Usually, these symptoms are accompanied by a cough, fatigue and a sore throat. The main difference between allergy symptoms and cold symptoms is that allergies never come with aches or a fever.

Simple Ways To Relieve Congestion

As you can see, while they are caused by different things a lot of the symptoms are the same. A stuffy nose can throw your entire day off balance. Your voice becomes distorted and breathing is a struggle. Nasal congestion is one of the most common side effects of allergies and the common cold, so many people experience these symptoms numerous times a year.

Contrary to popular belief, congestion isn’t caused by an excessive build-up of mucous in your nasal passage. In fact, it actually occurs when the blood vessels in your nasal tissue become swollen due to excess fluid. If you’re experiencing nasal congestion, here are some simple ways to get relief:

  • Steam. There are many ways to use steam to clear your nasal passages. Taking a hot shower or placing your head above a steaming pot of water are two simple and effective methods. Steam helps to reduce inflammation, allowing your breathing to normalize. When using this method, be sure the water is not hot enough to harm you. Also be aware that this method, though effective, may not provide long-lasting relief.
  • Saline spray. A salt-water solution can be dispersed into your nasal passages to help moisturize the area draw out fluid. This will help to reduce the swelling in your blood vessels and allow you to breath easily. Saline solutions can be bought in stores or made at home using distilled water.
  • Hydrate. Keeping your body adequately hydrated will allow you to thin out the mucus in your nasal passages and reduce inflammation. When experiencing a stuffy nose, keep a water bottle, sports drink or tea on hand to keep your fluid intake high.
  • Consult an allergy doctor. If you suspect your symptoms may be allergy-related, an allergist can help you find solutions to manage your condition. While over-the-counter medications may provide temporary relief, they should not be used daily. Allergy doctors can perform allergy testing and find effective ways of reducing or even curing your allergies.


To find an allergy clinic in Houston, or to learn more about allergy testing procedures, contact our team to at 713-328-0828.

Vaccinations and flu shots are enough; no one would really go out of their way to add more shots in their lives. Right? Wrong. If you are one of the many individuals in Houston, Texas suffering from environmental allergies, allergy shots may be just what you are looking for.

allergy shots and allergy treatment br center for allergy and sinus

If you are tired of taking daily allergy medication with little to no results, it is time to speak with your Houston allergy expert about allergy shots. In exchange for regular shots for the next three to five years you will experience a reduction or elimination of your allergy symptoms – sounds worth it to me.

Why Allergy Shots?

Allergy shots can be used as a long-term treatment for seasonal, indoor and insect sting allergies. They work by getting your body used to the allergen slowly, with the hopes that your body will develop an immunity or tolerance to it.

The Allergy Treatment Process

The allergy shot process is broken down into two phases – the build-up phase and the maintenance phase. The build-up phase involves a small amount of the allergen being injected into your upper arm once or twice a week. The dosage is gradually increased at each visit. The length of the build-up phase is entirely dependent on your body’s reaction to the allergens. The maintenance phase begins when you have reached your effective dose, essentially the most you can handle without showing symptoms. During the maintenance phase the dosage is no longer increased at each visit and the number of shots is decreased. The maintenance phase involves an allergy shot once every month for three to five years.

Your Houston allergist recommends allergy shots for anyone whose symptoms are not well controlled through medications or those that want to reduce their long-term use of medications.

The Risks of Allergy Shots

Since allergy shots contain a substance you are allergic to, there are some risks involved. Swelling and redness usually develop at the site of injection but are quick to clear up. Sneezing, nasal congestion and hives may develop as well as more severe reactions such as wheezing or chest-tightness. Anaphylaxis, the most serious reaction, rarely occurs. Since these shots are administered in a clinical setting, any reaction that does occur can be easily treated.

Unlike taking allergy medications, which treat symptoms immediately, your symptoms will not improve overnight with the use of allergy shots. Symptoms gradually improve over the first year of treatment and continue to improve over the next few years. Your allergy shots may even decrease symptoms of other allergens and prevent new allergies from developing.

I bet a weekly shot sounds appealing now that you know how much it can help you! Contact your local Houston allergist today for more information.

Shining a Light on Sun Allergies

Here comes the sun doo doo doo doo. While most people in Houston, Texas are excited for warm days full of blue skies and sunshine, those with a sun allergy are anything but.
Sun allergy treatment

Sun Poisoning

If you have a sun allergy you may develop an itchy red rash after exposure to sunlight. The most common type of this allergy is polymorphic light eruption, also known as sun poisoning. No one knows for sure why some individuals have this intense reaction to the sun and others don’t. Allergy specialists think the condition may be hereditary, or caused by certain medications, chemicals or medical conditions that make an individual’s skin more sensitive to sun.

Signs of a Sun Allergy

Redness, itching, pain, tiny blisters that may merge into raised patches, scaling, crusting, bleeding, blisters or hives are the most common symptoms of a sun allergy. These symptoms typically develop only after sun exposure. The amount of sunlight needed to elicit these symptoms is entirely dependent on the person.

Mild cases often clear up without treatment. If you experience an unusual or particularly bothersome reaction, contact your Houston allergy specialist. Once at your Houston allergy center, your allergist will examine your skin. While this is typically all that is required to make a diagnosis, some may need additional testing to be sure. The following tests may be completed:

  • Ultraviolet light testing. This test is used to see how your skin reacts to different wavelengths of light.
  • Photopatch testing. This test involves placing substances on your skin and seeing how they react when you are exposed to sunlight.
  • Blood tests and skin samples. These tests are typically not needed to diagnose a sun allergy; they are ordered if your doctor thinks the symptoms are caused by an undying condition, like lupus.

Once your Houston allergy specialist has determined the cause of your sun allergy, they can create a treatment plan. For mild cases, simply avoiding the sun will be all that is needed. For a more serious reaction, over-the-counter or prescription corticosteroid creams are needed. Severe reactions may require an oral corticosteroid or malaria medication.

If you think you may have a sun allergy, visit your Houston allergy specialist to know for sure.

Food Allergies from Apples to Zucchinis

If you have food allergies in Houston, Texas you are not alone; almost four percent of all adults and almost eight percent of all children report suffering from food allergies.

Food Allergies

Food allergies occur when your immune system mistakes a harmless food protein (an allergen) as a threat and attacks it. Large amounts of an antibody called immunoglobulin E (IgE) are produced during this attack; this antibody releases histamine and other chemicals, which trigger the symptoms of an allergic reaction.

8 Foods That Cause Most Food Allergies

While any food has the potential to cause an allergic reaction, there are eight foods that account for almost 90 percent of all food allergies: peanut, tree nuts, milk, egg, wheat, soy, fish and shellfish.

Food Allergy Testing

In order for your allergist to determine what you are allergic to, you will have to visit your Houston allergy clinic for food allergy testing. The first step in your food allergy testing is a skin prick test. A skin prick test involves placing a small amount of an allergen on your skin (usually in the form of an allergen extract).

The skin is then “pricked” with a plastic or metal needle to allow a small amount of the solution to enter just below the surface of the skin. After 15 to 20 minutes, the swelling and redness at the site of the test is measured. The size of the reaction is used to determine the severity of the allergy.

Next, a blood test is used to measure how much IgE is in your blood. The more allergen specific IgE in your blood, the more likely you are to be allergic. Blood tests are typically used to confirm the results of a skin test; they may also be used in lieu of skin tests if a serious allergy makes skin testing unsafe.

Food Allergy Symptoms

Finally, if the cause of symptoms cannot be pinpointed after a blood and skin prick test, an elimination diet is recommended. This involves removing foods you could be allergic to from your diet for two to four weeks. If your symptoms resolve, the eliminated food is likely the culprit. To be sure, your Houston allergist will have you gradually reintroduce the food back into your diet to see if the symptoms return.

The symptoms of an allergic reaction can range from mild to life threatening. Mild symptoms include hives, itchy mouth or ear, nausea or vomiting, stomach pain and sneezing.

Severe symptoms can include swelling of the lips, tongue and/or throat, shortness of breath, drop in blood pressure and turning blue. Any one of these severe symptoms or a combination of mild symptoms can be a sign of the life threatening reaction called anaphylaxis.

In the event of an anaphylactic reaction, epinephrine should be administered and you should be taken to the hospital.

Antihistamines such as Benadryl and Zyrtec are used to treat mild reactions. The antihistamines reduce the amount of histamine (the substance that is produced during an allergic reaction) in the body and thus reduce sneezing, sniffling and itching.

While there are drugs available to treat a reaction, the only way to prevent one is through strict avoidance of the problematic foods and to make sure you have plans in place for what to do if you do start to experience symptoms.

Your Houston allergist will work with you to come up with a food allergy and anaphylaxis emergency care plan and discuss tips on how to avoid the foods you are allergic to. Contact yourHouston allergy clinic to schedule an appointment.

Does Allergy Medical Therapy Work?

Seasonal allergy symptoms often seem like something you just have to live with. There are four distinct ways to handle allergies: avoidance, medical therapy, immunotherapy and non-pharmacological therapy. If you are fortunate enough to suffer from symptoms that are not too severe, medical therapy may be the right treatment for you.

Medical Therapy Categories

Medical therapy consists of six major drug categories: antihistamines, decongestants, nasal corticosteroids, decongestant nasal sprays, allergy eye drops and mast cell inhibitors. While not all of the drugs described below require a prescription, we recommend speaking with your Houston allergy doctor before starting any new medication. Visiting your Houston allergy clinic will give your allergy doctor a chance to complete allergy testing and review your symptoms; this information will help your allergy doctor determine which medication will best treat your type of allergies.


Antihistamines work by reducing or blocking histamines, chemicals produced by the immune system that are responsible for many common allergy symptoms including runny nose, stuffy nose and itchy and watery eyes. They are available in tablets, capsules, liquids, nasal sprays and eye drops. Common side effects of antihistamines include drowsiness, dry mouth, dizziness and nausea. Below are the most common antihistamines brands:

  • Allergra
  • Benadryl
  • Claritin
  • Chlor-Trimeton
  • Tavist
  • Zyrtec
  • Clarinex
  • Xyzal


Decongestants are used to treat a stuffed-up nose; they work by shrinking swollen blood vessels and tissues that line the nose. They come in pills, liquids, nasal sprays and nose drops and are available over-the-counter or by prescription. Decongestants may increase anxiety or cause sleeping difficulty. If you have a medical condition such as glaucoma, high blood pressure, heart disease, thyroid disorder, diabetes or enlarged prostate, consult with a doctor before using. Common decongestants include:

  • Afrin
  • Dristan
  • Sudafed
  • Suphedrin

If you cannot decide between an antihistamine and a decongestant, then you are in luck – many antihistamines also contain a decongestant. Common brands include:

  • Allegra-D
  • Claritin-D
  • Tavist-D

Nasal corticosteroids

Nasal corticosteroids are nasal sprays that reduce inflammation of the nasal lining associated with allergies. While they are extremely effective at relieving symptoms, they may cause nosebleeds, nasal dryness and sore throat. Nasal corticosteroids are generally safe to use long-term. They are usually available by prescription only. Common brands include:

  • Flonase
  • Nasonex
  • Nasacort
  • Rhinocort

Decongestant nasal sprays

Decongestant nasal sprays are used for short-term relief from nasal allergy symptoms. Overuse of these sprays can actually make symptoms worsen. Your Houston allergy doctor advises not to use decongestant nasal sprays for longer than three days. Popular brands include:

  • Afrin
  • Dristan
  • Vicks Sinex

Allergy eye drops

Allergy eye drops help relieve the symptoms of eye allergies. These drops can be used to treat itchy or watery eyes, a burning sensation in the eyes or redness and swelling. They are available in several different types including antihistamines, anti-inflammatory, decongestants and mast cell stabilizers. Some of the more common brands include:

  • Clear Eyes
  • Visine
  • Refresh
  • Claritin Eye
  • Alamast
  • Opcon-A

Mast cell inhibitors

Mast cell inhibitors work by preventing the release of histamines the immune system produces in response to allergens. This type of medications may be used to prevent allergy symptoms such as runny nose or itchy, watery eyes and is available in the form of nasal sprays and eye drops. Unlike other medications on this list, Mast cell inhibitors must be taken a week or two before the start of allergy season, and continued on a daily basis for the duration of the season.

If you are ready to finally find relief from your allergy symptoms, contact your local Houston allergy doctor.