Springtime brings us beautiful, longer days to enjoy nature’s annual rebirth of its blossoms, trees, and plants. However, for allergy sufferers, it can also signal the onset of sneezing, itchy eyes, runny nose, and persistent congestion.
Spring and allergies: What is the link?
An estimated 1 out of every 10 Americans (35 million people) suffer from allergies to pollens, molds, dust, or animal dander which doctors call allergic rhinitis or seasonal allergic rhinosinusitis.
Our nose, eyes, sinuses, and throat are lined with cells that can react strongly to allergens such as tree pollen in the springtime, grasses in the summer, and ragweed in the late summer/early autumn.
Many people suffer from these and other allergens like mold, dust, or animal dander year-round. These cells along our respiratory tracts, once triggered by the allergen, begin to release inflammatory substances like histamines which create excessive mucous congestion, itchy eyes and noses, tickly throats, and sneezing. Many patients develop acute sinusitis often thinking they have a cold or infection.
For asthmatics, seasonal allergies and hay fever can trigger wheezing and shortness of breath requiring immediate care with an emergency room visit.
Before reaching for the OTC allergy medicine, here’s some advice
Allergic rhinitis, also known as hay fever, can hit hard!
People rush to pharmacies buying nasal sprays, antihistamines, and decongestants, but often their symptoms continue with added, and sometimes dangerous, side effects from these over-the-counter medications.
From drowsiness and urinary problems to heart palpitations, these over-the- counter meds for allergies can cause significant harm with little benefit.
Eventually, many patients end up visiting their doctor for relief, often in the form of a steroid-based medication or injection.
Allergy relief — the natural way
If you experience allergy symptoms and they persist, you need to identify the specific allergen or multiple allergies involved.
Skin testing and blood testing by your doctor will confirm the diagnosis followed by an individually-designed treatment plan. This can range from tablets, nasal sprays, and steroids, to immunotherapy with allergy injections over a certain period of time.
There are also many easy and effective steps you can take at home to minimize or avoid hay fever and common allergies.
Here are my suggestions for natural allergy relief:
- Check pollen and mold counts in your area daily (reliable sites and apps include WebMD Allergy, The Weather Channel, Pollen.com).
- Avoid the outdoors when pollen counts are high.
- If you work outdoors (landscapers, construction workers, roofers), be sure to wash your hand and face with clean water frequently; remove clothes and shower immediately when you arrive home.
- Consider steam vapor inhalations.
- Avoid flying or scuba diving if sinuses are congested.
- Drink extra fluids.
- Turn on AC and stay indoors on high-pollen-count days.
- Check rugs or carpeting as a possible cause of dust mite allergies.
- If you suffer from allergy symptoms and have pets, consider allergy testing to dander, saliva, or urine.
- Before you purchase an over-the-counter medication for your symptoms discuss side effects and interactions with other meds or underlying conditions like high blood pressure or prostate enlargement.
If you have further questions about seasonal allergies or any other health-related topic,
contact me at [email protected] — where the doctor is always in!
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