The allergy season is upon us – part two

The allergy season is upon us – part two

Once the results of your blood test or a skin reaction test our back you now have a clearer picture of what is causing your runny nose and watery eyes. It is now time to explore the options available to you to control this allergic reaction to your environment.

There are nonmedical steps that you can take to minimize your exposure to the allergens in your home and at work. The first steps to take are to avoid being around anybody smoking and to stay inside when the pollution levels are high.

Perhaps the first place to start at home will be to have your heating and cooling system serviced at start of the pollen season. On the other hand, if you are handy around the house, you can change your heating/air-conditioning (HVAC) filters and clean all the vents. Check your exterior windows to make sure they not allow any dust to come through. After you have your house tidied up it is time the take steps to protect yourself when you are outside.

One of the easiest ways to do this is to wear a mask when you go outside. But, if wearing a mask still does not alleviate some of the symptoms then, if possible, simply avoid going outside when the pollen counts are high with the irritants that affect you the most.

Dr. Stacy Gray suggests using nasal saline irrigations after exposure to allergens because they help clean out your nose. If these nonmedical interventions are not helping it is time to seriously consider other options.

There are a number of medical interventions available, amongst which are the use of the antihistamines, corticosteroid nasal sprays, decongestants, immunotherapy and non-steroidal nasal sprays.

Antihistamines work by counteracting the protein histamine that tissue cells release from deep inside the skin during a reaction to the allergen. There are a number of over-the-counter products (OTC) available. Benadryl has been used for a long time and is still effective however; there are newer products that work equally as well but without the side effects of drowsiness. Check with your doctor because there are many options out there when it comes to antihistamines.

Corticosteroid nasal sprays, as can be expected from the name, are manufactured steroids equivalent to the hormones produced in your adrenal glands. These work by reducing the inflammation caused by the irritants and at the same time cut down on the nasal itching, congestion, and runny nose. Since these are prescription medications, they will have to be ordered up by your doctor.

Decongestants reduce the swelling in the nasal passages. People with high blood pressure or heart problems should consider other options. They should not be used for more than several days because if used longer than a few days they can actually make the congestion worse. These are over-the-counter products but since they are also used in the manufacturing of methamphetamine they are actually kept behind the counter. In some states, you may have to sign for them.

Immunotherapy is a sequence of allergy shots that is intended to be used to build up an immunity to allergens over a period of 3 to 5 years. Your doctor may recommend this as a last resort especially if you are not responding to the regularly suggested medications.

Non-steroidal nasal sprays, containing cromolyn sodium, focus on the cause of the symptoms by preventing the allergens from even getting to the cells that release histamine. According to Dr. Gray, these types of products, although not quite as effective as the nasal steroid sprays, can be used long-term.

Dr. Gray says that since the allergy season is starting earlier each year you may want to start using a nasal spray a few weeks before the spring allergies begin.

The allergy season is upon us – part one

The allergy season is upon us – part one

It was earlier predicted, and may have already occurred by the time this article is published, that allergy season is going to start sooner this year. In 2012, the allergy season started in February.

In November 2012, a research presentation at the American College of Allergy Asthma and Immunology suggested that by the year 2040 pollen counts would be double. Dr. Stacy Gray of the Harvard affiliated Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, an allergy expert believes that because the winters are shorter and less severe there are going to be more pollens and molds present for a longer period.

As those of you know who already suffer from allergies, grass, weeds, and trees all release their tiny but powerfully effective irritants into the air. The allergy season begins every spring with the tree allergies, continues into and through the summer with grass allergies and sometimes ends in the fall with weed allergies.

Once these pollens are inhaled, they trigger a reaction of the immune system commonly referred to as hay fever.

The familiar symptoms of an allergy generally include sneezing, having a runny nose, burning or watery eyes and itching. Asthma and chronic obstructive lung disease both tend to increase your chances of having a miserable allergy season.

Not only do allergic reactions stem from grass, weeds, and trees but other pollutants in the air such as dust mite droppings and mold spores cause grief as well. The good news is normally problems with dust mite droppings are not seasonal. However, in the warmer climates mold can be a year-round problem.

If you feel that you are suffering from some of the known reactions, then it is a good idea to have an allergy test. These are often times done a doctor’s office with either a blood test or a skin reaction test.

The skin reaction test involves exposing your body to known allergens via a pinprick. If your skin becomes red and swollen at the test spot is an indication that you are having an allergic reaction to the allergen.

After you find what allergens you react to then you and your doctor will develop a plan of action to treat your allergies. Quite frequently, this involves medications. Your doctor and you will make a decision as to what type of medications they believe will be of benefit to you. The decision is based upon the symptoms you have and the other medications that you may be taking for other conditions. This helps to avoid any possible complications from the interactions of the drugs.

However, the wise consumer researches the suggested medications, their side effects, and acknowledged interactions with other medications before starting their use.