Itchy eyes…runny nose…sneezing. Every spring, like clockwork, the same symptoms set in. And unlike a cold, which is typically short-lived, allergy symptoms can stick with you for weeks — or even months.
This year, be proactive about allergies. Learning your triggers and seeing an allergist for treatment a few weeks before the season starts could save you a lot of sniffling and sneezing.
Before you can stop allergy symptoms, you need to know what’s causing them. Pollen might seem like the obvious culprit in spring, but other triggers — from mold to pet dander — could also be behind your symptoms. And even if you’re sensitive to pollen, the count alone might not tell the whole story.
“People focus on the highs and lows of pollen counts,” said allergist James Sublett, MD, president of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI). “What they don’t realize is that a high total pollen count doesn’t always mean you will have allergy symptoms. The pollen from the plant you are allergic to may not be high. The key is to know what you’re allergic to, and how to treat your particular symptoms.”
An allergist can help you identify your triggers with the use of skin prick or blood tests. Once you know whether you’re sensitive to tress, grass, dust, or pet dander, then you can start focusing on possible treatments.
Recent guidelines from the American Academy of Otolaryngology — Head and Neck Surgery can help you and your doctor strategize your treatment plan. Treatments the Academy recommends for combatting seasonal allergies include:
Don’t procrastinate taking your allergy medicines. The longer you wait, the longer you’ll have to endure symptoms. The effects of many allergy drugs take several days to kick in. Start taking your medicines two to three weeks before you normally start to see symptoms, to head them off.
One of the best strategies for preventing spring allergies is to avoid the plants or other substances that set off your symptoms. Here are a few tips:
March 03, 2016
Janet O’Dell, RN