May 20, 2009

Allergic to Las Vegas?

Here, I always thought Vegas was supposed to be good for you - lack of vegetation and all. I suffered from seasonal allergies while living in Chicago, and I regularly got sinus infections. I never saw a specialist, I was satisfied with my doctor prescribing me antibiotics, when needed, and taking allergy meds to relieve symptoms. I thought maybe living in Vegas would alleviate my allergies, but I learned a few months after living here that that wasn't the case. As it turned out, in Vegas, I suffer from allergies in spring and fall. Usually, April and September are the worst months for me. The rest of the year I get by alright without medication, and once I quit smoking sinus infections rarely occured. I assumed I had my allergies pretty well under control.

That is until this month. I spent a week in misery, before my boss insisted that I see an Otolaryngologist. By then, I was feeling quite a bit better, so I was surprised when the doctor told me my swelling and congestion were so severe. I returned to see him today, this visit, swelling had reduced and he was able to perform a nasal endoscopy. However, the swelling was still too severe to see my sinuses. After talking about my symptoms I realized that it's very likely I suffer from allergies far more often than I even thought. It seems my symptoms are most severe during certain months and on windy days. Next course of action is a CT Scan. I'll have that done in the next couple weeks. I'll also meet with an Allergist in June to have testing done to see what I'm allergic specifically to in Las Vegas. Based on those results I could start Immunotherapy. I'm terrified of needles so I'm not sure that regular (self) injections are the best course of treatment. But if it could mean feeling great year round it is worth consideration, however, I'll wait to see results of my upcoming tests before making any decisions.

I talked with the Allergist's nurse after my visit with the doctor. She said doctors used to encourage their patients to move to Vegas for allergen relief, and it used to help. But Vegas has seen such tremendous growth over the years it's become a breeding ground for all kinds of allergens: non-native plants, pollution, mold, dust mites, construction, etc. She claimed we are number two for the worst allergies, and Phoenix is number one. I did my own research today and I couldn't turn up that same information. Instead, it seems Las Vegas takes 20-30th place on most lists for seasonal allergies. I found a couple reports that indicate Las Vegas is the 7th worst city for allergens. In any case, Vegas isn't the cure for allergies no matter what anyone might think or been told. If you had allergies before living here, chances are good you'll still have them.

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