How to survive seasonal allergies
It’s that time of year where plants come back to life and spring is in the air. Unfortunately, so is pollen.
For the 24 million Americans suffering from seasonal sinus allergies, spring can be a time of dread.
Seasonal allergies occur when your body misidentifies pollen as a threat, leading to an immune system response. This immune response causes symptoms such as skin rash, headache, sneezing, wheezing, itchiness and runny nose.
“You need to have a collaborative experience and present options for treatment, because there are many ways of treating medical problems,” says Dr. Howard Kotler, an ear, nose and throat specialist at Advocate Trinity Hospital in Chicago. “Surgery and medical treatment of the head and neck is unlike any part of the human body, because that part of the anatomy is extremely complex.”
Sinusitis, an inflammation of the sinuses, is often mistaken as a cold. It is frequently caused by germ infections, viruses and molds. People with a weak immune system are more likely to develop sinus issues.
The most severe and potentially deadly reactions cause swelling throughout the body. In addition, an infection of the sinus cavity close to the brain can be life threatening, if not treated.
“You have to formulate a holistic plan, because every patient is different,” says Dr. Howard. Thankfully, for those with sinus issues, there are steps that can help manage and prevent these symptoms:
- Avoidance: The easiest step is avoiding your triggers. If it’s mold, resist taking a walk outside following a big rainstorm. For those with grass and tree allergies, it’s best to go outside later in the afternoon and in the evening when the pollen counts are lower. Those allergic to pets should bath and brush them regularly to reduce the amount of dander in the air.
- Medication: There are many over-the-counter and prescription medications that can help alleviate symptoms. Antihistamines such as Zyrtec or Claritin can be taken throughout allergy season. Corticosteroid nasal sprays such as Flonase can also be used daily to alleviate symptoms. If these alone aren’t enough to manage your symptoms, there are prescription medications that your physician may prescribe.
- Allergy Shots: Also known as immunotherapy, allergy shots can offer a cure. This treatment involves injecting small amounts of the allergen into your body over time so it isn’t recognized as a threat. The shots are given on a monthly basis over the course of one to two years.
Although spring can be troubling for those with seasonal allergies, it doesn’t have to be miserable. With the proper steps, allergies don’t have to rule your life.
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health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Aurora Health sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.