Written & Approved By Fred Lewis, M.D., Board Certified Allergist & Immunologist
Spring is here and our eyes have begun to water and our noses are stuffing up. If you think you have a cold, think again. You may be suffering from spring allergies.
How do you know if you have allergies ? Take this short quiz.
• Have you been sneezing a lot lately ?
• Are there certain times of the year when your nose is very itchy?
• Are your eyes watery and / or red ?
• Do you have a runny nose with clear drainage ?
• Are you wheezing and coughing ?
If you answered yes to many of these questions, it is likely that you are allergic to something.
If you have seasonal allergies, then you may need to take allergy medications, which can include antihistamines, steroid nasal sprays, and eye allergy medications.
Watch for my daily pollen counts and avoid going outside during days when the counts are high, use nasal washes, take a decongestant, and consider allergy testing and allergy shots for persistent symptoms. Also, remember to start your allergy medications before your typical allergy season begins.
Dramatic strides in allergy medication therapy research have developed effective allergy treatment options. The three major allergy medicine categories include: antihistamines, decongestants, and anti-inflammatory medications.
In general, allergy treatment begins with avoidance of the triggers. Then medication is added, and if neither avoidance or medication are effective, then allergy shots are added, which immunize the patient to the pollen itself.
Avoidance: It is often hard to avoid pollen when it's in the air we breathe. I have given you these basic avoidance tips before, but they are worth repeating:
• Wash pets that have been outdoors.
• Wash pollen off your hair and skin
• Keep your car and house windows closed.
• Use air conditioning
Still, for most seasonal allergy sufferers, avoidance is impractical and doesn't do the trick. The good news is that there are very effective medications that address a range of symptoms and your allergist can best help relieve you decide which ones will be most effective. Remember, always check with your primary care physician or your allergist before taking any over the counter medications, particularly if you are already taking prescription medications.