It may start with sneezing or coughing, or your eyes may become red and itchy. The unquestionable culprit behind these symptoms is allergies.
Environmental allergies occur when the body misinterprets elements in the environment as threats and triggers a defensive response. Typical triggers include animal dander, insect droppings, mold spores, pollen and dust.
Environmental allergies can manifest seasonally or persist year-round, affecting a large portion of the population. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 1 in 4 adults and 1 in 5 children experience seasonal environmental allergies or hay fever.
No matter what the allergen is, there are ways to control allergy symptoms, according to advice from otolaryngology medical experts. Clinicians emphasize that allergies fundamentally affect a person’s quality of life and cause suffering to some people.
Patients often seek help from clinicians with severe congestion and suffer for years, while others are hypersensitive and seek complete relief of symptoms. Managing environmental allergies becomes a personal choice.
For those struggling with seasonal or environmental allergies, here are some relief measures you can take:
1. avoid allergens: While completely avoiding allergens can be challenging, trying to do so is a great place to start. For example, if you are allergic to dogs, try to stay away from them. Cats present a greater challenge because their sticky, oily dander clings to surfaces. Reducing dust can be achieved by eliminating carpeting, opting for blinds over curtains, and using leather or vinyl furniture. Use a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filtration system to help purify the air. Regularly washing sheets in hot water and using dust covers on pillows and bedding can also help.
2. Take over-the-counter medications: Over-the-counter medications are available to control allergy symptoms. Antihistamine pills or sprays can provide temporary relief in about 30 minutes, while nasal steroid sprays can provide long-lasting relief if used consistently. Nasal steroids may require regular use for weeks or months to achieve significant relief. Before using nasal steroids, it is crucial to use the spray correctly and perform nasal irrigation to remove mucus, pollen, and dust.
3. Consider immunotherapy: If over-the-counter options aren’t enough, your doctor may recommend allergy injections or drops. These immunotherapies help reduce the immune system’s sensitivity to the allergens that cause symptoms. Injections are usually given in a doctor’s office and are initially given once a week. Some people may eventually take the vaccine themselves. Allergy drops are another option that are absorbed under the tongue. Treatment progresses from low to full concentrations, with the drops taking approximately 12 weeks to reach full dosage. Insurance may not cover falls.
4. If symptoms worsen, seek medical attention: Untreated allergies can worsen over time and may lead to conditions such as asthma, nasal polyps, and chronic sinusitis. It is important to monitor your symptoms and consult your doctor if they worsen.
5. Surgical options: Some surgical procedures can relieve nasal congestion if other treatments don’t work. These procedures do not eliminate allergies but can help improve the quality of life for those seeking alternatives to allergy medications or immunotherapy.