Allergies are the pits. You say Hay Fever, I say Allergic Rhinitis. Whatever you call it, it’s a common problem that causes nasal congestion, runny nose, sneezing, post nasal drip with a ticklish cough, and an itchy feeling of the throat, nose and eyes. Generally the key symptom in distinguishing whether your crappy symptoms are a cold verses allergies is the itch factor.
The offender: a protein in pollen produced by grasses, plants, and trees. Other culprits include cat and dog saliva/dander, mold, dust mites. Yes, some folks have life threatening allergies to foods, bees, etc. but that’s a horsefly of a different color and not covered in this sixty second post.
What happens in an allergy attack? Click here for a slide show that explains the body’s immune response.
- Avoid trigger allergens: If you know what you are allergic to, do your best to avoid exposure. Pollen counts high? Wear a mask. So what if you look like a doofus, it beats sneezing and feeling miserable. Other things that might help: shower before bed, use air-conditioning.
- Antihistamines: Most are now available over-the-counter. Allegra is hands down the first choice of 9/10 immunologists. Talk to your friendly neighborhood pharmacist if you need help deciding which one to try. Side effects are possible (sedation with some), and if you take prescription meds you need to talk to your primary care provider before adding on another med due to potential drug-drug interactions.
- Prescription Nasal Sprays: If your allergies last a season or all year round, prescription sprays such as Flonase or Nasonex are a great treatment option. Less chance of side effects, and excellent control of symptoms.
- Allergy Shots: Certainly the underdog, allergy shots are something to be considered. If you want to get to the root of your allergy problem and have the patience to do allergy testing and immunotherapy, consider treating your allergies using this route.
No, allergies are not just kid’s stuff. Some allergies take years of exposure to finally develop, which explains why adults surprisingly become allergic when they never were before.
Don’t be sad, there are many treatment options.
You can still stop and smell the roses.