Seasonal allergies, or commonly called hay fever, are a group of conditions that may cause a person to sneeze, have a stuffy nose, or a irritating runny nose. These symptoms happen certain times of the year when the irritants are in full exposure. Some of these irritants include:
In response to the body attacking the invaders, the body releases enzymes that cause allergic symptoms, like sneezing, coughing, and runny nose.
Usually, folks get seasonal allergies during their childhood and the symptoms can get better or worse over time.
How do I get tested?
Ask your doctor about testing options. A simple physical exam is all that may be needed to diagnose seasonal allergies. However, an allergy skin test is recommended to find out what exactly you might be allergic to. During a skin test, the physician will drop a substance that you might be allergic to on your skin and make a tiny prick in your skin. Then we watch and see if it gets red and bumpy! That's it!
Ok, so I have seasonal allergies, now how do I help my body fight this battle?
1. Nose rinses - Using salt water to rinse the inside of the nose cleans and gets rid of the pollen in the nose. Buy a neti pot or sinus rinse at your neighborhood CVS, Walmart or other convenience store!
2. Steroid nose sprays - Be patient with these. It takes a few days to weeks before they start working.
3. Antihistamines - The goal of this class of medications is to stop the symptoms, like itchy eyes, sneezing, runny nose, etc. Remember, some antihistamines can make you feel sleepy, like Benadryl. So, please consult with a physician regarding what you are taking, even though it is over the counter. Medications interact and can influence how you feel.
4. Allergy shot - These are usually every week or monthly administered by a physician. Again, this may take months to work.
5. Allergy pills - These are usually placed under the tongue. They work similar to allergy shots. These can be taken everyday for several months of the year.
All of these treatments must be discussed with your primary care physician.
Can seasonal allergies be prevented?
Absolutely! If you know exactly what time of the year you get allergies, talk with your primary care physician. By starting your medication 2 weeks prior to that time of year, symptoms may be prevented. If you are allergic to pollen, try the following things:
So, it's not just you who thinks this allergy season is bad. There's science to back up what you are feeling!