Every year, millions of people flock to Florida for our mild winters. However, did you know that those warm and more humid temperatures mean that our allergy season sticks around a lot longer? Even though you’re not worrying about shoveling snow or driving on icy roads, asthma and allergies are a real concern for Tampa Bay-area residents.
“People always associate allergies with spring when flowers are pollinating, but here in Florida, the fall and winter months can be even worse. The temperatures do still drop here and the winds pick up, pushing all of those allergens out into the air. This time of the year is especially brutal for my patients who suffer from allergic rhinitis,” says Yoon Nofsinger, M.D., a Board-certified Otolaryngologist with Florida E.N.T. & Allergy.
Dr. Nofsinger is one of three physicians who work at the practice’s Wesley Chapel office, located just off of S.R. 56, near I-75, in the Cypress Ridge Professional Center.
Dr. Nofsinger specializes in general otolaryngology (the medical term for medical and surgical management and treatment of diseases and disorders of the ear, nose, and throat), head and neck surgery, balloon sinus dilation and treating allergies. She received her medical degree from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, where she also earned a Graduate Degree in Anthropology. She completed her undergraduate education at Duke University in Durham, N.C., and is Board-certified by the American Board of Otolaryngology.
Dr. Nofsinger works with Peter F. Agnello, M.D., and Pierre Y. Musy, M.D., Ph.D., at Florida E.N.T. & Allergy’s Wesley Chapel office.
Dr. Agnello specializes in general otolaryngology and head and neck surgery. He received his medical degree from the Boston University School of Medicine, and his undergraduate degree from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, TN. He did a residency at the University of South Florida’s College of Medicine and is Board-certified by the American Board of Otolaryngology.
Dr. Musy practices surgical and medical management of a variety of ear, nose, and throat problems. He has a particular interest in sino-nasal problems, and cares for both adult and pediatric patients. He holds several degrees from the University of Florida in Gainesville, including his medical degree and his Ph.D. in Molecular Genetics and Microbiology. He did residencies at the University of Virginia Medical Center in Charlottesville, then practiced ENT in Montana and in Washington, D.C., before joining Florida E.N.T. & Allergy. Dr. Musy also is Board-certified by the American Board of Otolaryngology.
Allergic rhinitis is an allergy to dust, mold, pollen, mites or insect parts. Symptoms include coughing, watery and itchy eyes, runny nose and sneezing. Allergic rhinitis also puts you at a higher risk of developing sinusitis, or inflammation of the sinus cavity (see below).
“Allergies can cause your sinuses and nasal passages to swell, preventing the sinus cavities from draining properly, which increases your chance of developing a sinus infection,” says Dr. Nofsinger. “Any stuffy nose or cough that lasts more than two weeks is probably more than a cold, and you should see a physician.”
How Can Florida E.N.T. & Allergy Help You?
Asthma symptoms also can rear their head during these cooler months. The cold, dry air can trigger wheezing, cough, chest tightness and shortness of breath. Viral and bacterial infections that are more common this time of year also can bring an onset of asthma symptoms.
“Asthma is caused by different factors in different people, so it is always important to see a specialist,” says Dr. Nofsinger. “We get our patients on a personalized treatment plan that takes into account their lifestyle and any medications they are already taking.”
As for allergies, there are several treatments available at Florida E.N.T. & Allergy to help alleviate patient symptoms. Allergy shots are still the most common option; however, Dr. Nofsinger says sublingual immunotherapy, also known as SLIT, is even more convenient. During this therapy, an allergen solution is placed underneath the tongue — instead of through an injection — to boost the body’s tolerance to the substance and reduce symptoms. Patients administer the drops themselves at home instead of having to run back and forth to an allergy specialist’s office.
“Patients first come see us and undergo testing to confirm their sensitivities,” says Dr. Nofsinger. “We then prepare an allergen extract and send them home with directions to place it under their tongue for a prescribed amount of time. Patients can continue on this therapy for up to five years, until they develop a lasting immunity.”
SLIT has been readily available in Europe for years, and clinical trials have shown it to be safe and effective for the treatment of rhinitis, asthma and allergies, including to dust mites, grass, ragweed, pet dander and tree pollen. “Our patients not only find it effective, but it’s an extreme convenience,” says Dr. Nofsinger. “Instead of taking time off work to come to the office for allergy shots, they can treat their symptoms at home and get on with their daily lives, allergy-free.”
Florida E.N.T. & Allergy also helps patients suffering from sinusitis. Acute cases can be treated with decongestants and antibiotics. However, if the condition has become chronic, surgery may be necessary. Florida E.N.T. & Allergy’s specialists offer many surgical options, including balloon sinuplasty, a minimally invasive procedure that is performed right in the office.
Your Ear, Nose, &
The specialists at Florida E.N.T. & Allergy have been helping pediatric and adult patients in the Tampa Bay area for more than 40 years. With 17 Board-certified physicians and 11 convenient locations, the practice’s experienced team specializes in all aspects of ear, nose and throat care from pediatric allergies to fitting hearing aids.
Florida E.N.T. & Allergy has locations in Tampa, Brandon, Riverview, Plant City, Lutz, Westchase, North Tampa and South Tampa, plus two St. Petersburg locations. The Wesley Chapel office is located at 26853 Foggy Creek Rd., Building 21, Suite 101. It is open Monday–Friday, 9 a.m.–5:30 p.m.
For more information or to make an appointment, call (813) 879-8045, or visit FloridaENTandAllergy.com.