More than 67 million American suffer from allergies, which are a heightened sensitivity to a foreign substance that causes the immune system to overreact. Common allergic reactions include eczema, hives, hay fever, asthma, food allergies, and pet dander. Major outdoor allergens include those derived from the pollens of trees, grasses, and weeds.
Those with pollen allergies suffer from a wide breath of symptoms including:
§ Nasal congestions
§ Itchy watery eyes
§ Runny nose
§ Itchy throat
§ Itchy skin/hives
§ Asthma exacerbation
How can you get your allergies in control?
Treatment of seasonal allergies consists of 3 major categories of therapy: environmental control and allergen avoidance, pharmacological management and immunotherapy.
1. Allergen control: If you are going out, try to take a shower as soon as you come inside, this will reduce the time you are exposed as well as decrease the spread of pollen throughout your indoor space. Try to avoid being outside when pollen counts are at their highest. Did you know that you can go online to track the pollen count within your area? In general tree pollen is worse in the spring, while grass tends to be worse in the fall. Also keep in mind that pollen counts tend to be higher on dry sunny windy days.
Try to keep the pollen outside by:
§ Keep windows and doors closed as much as possible
§ Use the air conditioner on recirculating mode if necessary, fans and some AC units pull air from the outdoors in
2. Pharmacological management: The mainstay of this is antihistamines which block the release of the chemical that is responsible for the symptoms felt during allergic reactions. Newer second generation antihistamines are usually preferable to avoid sedation and other adverse effects. Antihistamines, come in eye drops, intranasal sprays and oral formulations, and can be taken daily or as needed. For those, who know they will be encountering a trigger, take the antihistamine prior to exposure, this will maximize its effects.
Nasal steroids are very helpful for controlling sneezing, itching, runny nose and nasal congestion. They also work well in conjunction with a systemic agent like an antihistamine.
3. Immune therapy: Shots are available that decrease ones sensitivity to allergens. Typically these shots are done as a series given over a prolong period of time. It is a long term process which should be continued for 3-5 years, however success rates have been demonstrated to be as high as 80-90 percent.