If you’re feeling a little sniffly and sneezy these days, you aren’t alone. Allergies are on the rise across North America, and there’s no sign that they’ll be going away anytime soon. In fact, allergies are the sixth leading cause of chronic illness in the United States according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology. The good news is that with a few simple steps, you can manage your seasonal allergies more effectively. In this blog, we’ll look at some common allergy symptoms, what happens during allergy seasons, and how you can fight allergy symptoms this season!
Allergies, also known as hay fever or allergic rhinitis, occur when an allergen like pollen or mold irritates the nasal passages and lungs, triggering an immune system response of inflammation and mucus production. When you have allergies to pollen or other allergens like dust mites your immune system overreacts when it perceives the allergen as a threat. Common symptoms of allergies include:
- Sneezing, runny nose and sniffling
- Itchy eyes, mouth, throat or ears
- Sinus pressure
What are allergy seasons?
There are three basic allergy seasons: spring (tree season), summer (grass season) and fall (weed season). Tree pollen allergies are common early in the season, while grasses increase as summer approaches. In addition to these two main types of allergens, you can also have allergic reactions to weed pollens and mold spores during fall months.
How to Fight Seasonal Allergies
Many people with allergies dread allergy season because they constantly feel “out of it” due to their symptoms. While you may not be able to eliminate allergies completely, there are a few things you can do to fight seasonal allergies and reduce your symptoms:
Know Your Symptoms
One of the first ways to reduce your allergy symptoms is to identify them. Since many allergy symptoms can mimic illnesses like a cold or flu, it is easy to get confused about what is causing your symptoms. Generally speaking, however, symptoms that continue to persist after 1-2 weeks are associated with allergies.
Once you have identified that your symptoms are, in fact, due to allergies, the next thing you will want to do is pay attention to when your symptoms get better or worse. Allergies affect everyone differently, which means there are likely certain things that will irritate your allergies more so than others. Identifying what is causing your symptoms can help you significantly when it comes to preventing and treating symptoms.
As mentioned above, there are different allergy seasons with different environmental allergens such as pollen and mold. Environmental allergens change with the seasons, which is why some people may have really bad allergies in the spring, but only have mild allergies in the fall. Allergens in your home, however, may cause symptoms to occur year round. Home allergens can include things like mold, pet dander, and dust.
Know Your Medications
In addition to identifying your allergy symptoms and potential allergens, another way to manage these symptoms is by knowing your allergy medications. Despite the fact that over the counter antihistamines are all considered equal in terms of their effectiveness, there are certain antihistamines that may work better for certain people. This means that you may need to try a few different types to determine which one is most effective against your symptoms.
Not only that, but you also need to make sure that you are using allergy medications properly. For example, certain nasal sprays are not meant for long-term use because they can become addictive and can actually make your congestion worse in the long run. Other decongestants may not be ideal for people with heart problems, high blood pressure, or anxiety. If you are not sure about whether a medication is right for you, consult with your local ENT.
Establish a Routine
Once you have identified your symptoms and found an effective medication, the next step is to establish a preventative routine. Many people only treat their allergy symptoms once they have started or when they have become really bad. However, this means that you will always be one step behind your symptoms and the treatment will not be as effective.
Instead, it is recommended to consistently take allergy medications throughout the season at the same time every day. This helps to prevent or minimize the severity of symptoms. It is also recommended to get ahead of allergy season and start your routine about a week before allergy season even starts. Again, this will help to prevent symptoms and is more effective than trying to treat severe symptoms.
See an ENT
An otolaryngologist, more commonly referred to simply as an ear, nose, throat (ENT) doctor, is a medical specialist who can help with the diagnosis and treatment of allergies. In cases where you feel that you have tried just about everything to alleviate your allergy symptoms and are not seeing results, you should visit an ENT.
ENTs can offer a variety of effective treatments to treat nasal congestion and other symptoms associated with allergies. For starters, they can prescribe a stronger medication to relieve symptoms. Additionally, they can also perform procedures such as turbinate reduction, septal swell body reduction, septoplasty, nasal valve repair, or balloon sinuplasty to eliminate or minimize allergy symptoms permanently.
Fighting your seasonal allergies can be challenging, especially since it can be hard to identify symptoms and allergens. However, by knowing your symptoms and medications, as well as establishing a medication routine based on your symptoms, you should have an easier time managing your symptoms this season. Still, it can also be beneficial to schedule an appointment with your local ENT specialist to discuss your allergy symptoms and receive professional treatment. We hope that this article has helped you to identify what is causing your allergy symptoms and how best to manage them. If you are still unsure about how to manage your allergy symptoms, give us a call at Anne Arundel ENT & Facial Plastic Surgery so we can answer all your questions.