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Allergy Season is Here: If Your Allergies Turn Into a Sinus Infection, Beware of Popular Fluoroquinolone Antibiotics
It’s almost that time of year: Snow is melting, flowers are blooming and everything in nature seems to be coming back to life after this particularly hard winter. But before we all celebrate, here’s a dose of warning: High pollen counts are being reported this year already in the West Coast and Southwest, and those high pollen counts may start appearing along the East Coast soon, too.
Interestingly, some researchers believe that this seasons’ expected high pollen counts may have to do with global warming, meaning seasonal allergies may be an increasingly common complaint in the coming years. But whatever the cause, allergies can wreak havoc on your sinuses.
You know the basics. High pollen counts mean tough allergy symptoms — from scratchy throats to itchy or watery eyes and runny noses. And unfortunately, if your seasonal allergies cause a nasal blockage, there’s a risk that your allergies could turn into a sinus infection that needs antibiotic treatment.
While sinus infections are one of the most common forms of infections in the U.S., that doesn’t mean they are always harmless; if left untreated, a sinus infection can develop into another infection that is even harder to treat because of the tiny passageways into which bacteria can settle.
But there’s another danger too – and that’s the antibiotic that may be prescribed for your sinus infection. Often a type of antibiotic called a fluoroquinolone is prescribed because it is highly effective in terms of killing just about any type of bacteria. Fluoroquinolones include Cipro, Levaquin, and Avelox.
The problem with fluoroquinolones, and the reason for our caution to you, is that these antibiotics have serious associated risks that may cause a multitude of adverse symptoms for patients, including irreversible peripheral neuropathy. This class of high-powered antibiotics has a place in life-saving, last-ditch treatments but not in routine infections, where the risk is far greater than the reward.
Luckily, there are a few things you can do to protect yourself.
First, remember to ask your doctor whether there is another, non-fluoroquinolone antibiotic you can take should you find yourself in need of a prescription. (Remember, fluoroquinolone antibiotics were intended for life-threatening infections.)
But even better… do what you can to protect yourself from developing season allergy symptoms in the first place.
- Avoid the outdoors in “Allergy Primetime” — A.K.A. dusk and dawn
- Keep your windows closed
- Take your shoes off before you walk into your house — if possible, leave them outside of your house, too
- Wash your hands as soon as you enter your house
- If you are particularly susceptible to season allergies, you can filter the air in your bedroom
- And if symptoms persist, you can take allergy medication, which takes around 24 hours to begin working, or see an allergist to discover what it is you are allergic to, from plants to flowers or even mold
We hope these tips can help you stay well this allergy season.