Preventing Allergy Symptoms with Common Allergy Treatment
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According to the World Health Organization, an estimated 10-30% of all Americans suffer from allergic rhinitis (commonly known as seasonal allergies). Allergens that cause seasonal allergies come from the pollen from trees, plants, weeds and grasses. The more pollen in the air, the more you may suffer from allergy symptoms such as runny nose, sneezing, congestion, headache and itchy or watery eyes.
While allergies cannot be cured, there are many ways to prevent symptoms of allergies that may be a simple annoyance or could be making you downright miserable.
- Reduce exposure to the allergen. If your allergic symptoms are elevated during a specific season, avoid being outside as much as possible. The more you are exposed to the allergen, the more miserable you will be. If it’s time to mow the lawn, wear a mask to prevent breathing in pollen from grass. If you have pets, keep in mind that when they go outside they will track allergens back into your home. Do not allow pets in your bed. Exercise indoors when your allergies are flaring. Close your windows to prevent allergens from getting into your house and change filters regularly. Before you go outside, check the pollen and mold count on the local weather.
- Shower before bed. Removing allergens from your body, hair and clothes before bed will keep the allergens out of your bed and help avoid repeat contamination.
- Use saline nasal sprays or rinses. These over-the-counter treatments will remove allergens from the lining of the nose and should help reduce your symptoms. Other similar treatments include neti pots, nasal irrigation bulb syringes and squeeze bottles. If you’ve been exposed to an allergen you are allergic to, flushing the allergen from your nose is a common way to alleviate symptoms.
- Use prescription nasal steroids. If the above steps are not helping to alleviate your symptoms, the next step is to use inhaled nasal steroids, such as Flonase or Nasonex™. These treatments are prescription medications. They are easy to use and effective.
- Take a decongestant. If you are suffering from severe symptoms such as congestion, decongestants should help improve your symptoms. Many decongestants can be found over the counter, such as pseudoephedrine and phenylephrine.
- Take an antihistamine. If your symptoms include runny nose and sneezing, an antihistamine, such as Benadryl®, will likely help you feel better. It can make you sleepy. There are antihistamines available over the counter which are less sedating, such as Claritin®, Allegra® and Zyrtec®. There are also nasal sprays, such as Astelin and Patanase.
- Try a combination decongestant and antihistamine. Depending on your symptoms, you may benefit from a combination medication that treats congestion, runny nose and sneezing. Some examples include Claritin-D, Allegra-D and Zyrtec-D.
- Anti-inflammatory nasal spray. If you are still suffering from symptoms after trying the above treatments, an anti-inflammatory nasal spray such as Nasalcrom may help.
- Allergy testing and allergy shots. If you are not responding to the above treatments you should consider consulting with an allergist for skin testing to determine your specific allergies, followed by a prescribed series of allergy shots under the direction of an allergist.
If this progression of treatments does not help your symptoms, you may not be suffering from allergies at all. Some patients experience a non-allergic rhinitis, which is more a reactivity in the nose than an actual allergy. Other patients may have a tendency to attribute chronic headaches to allergies when they don’t actually have allergies. The only way to determine your specific allergies is through general skin testing.
Read more on how to know if your symptoms are actually caused by allergies.
As always, it is important to talk with your physician before adding any medications to your routine.
For more information about Cooper Clinic, visit cooper-clinic.com or call 972.560.2667.