Spring Is the Season for Allergy Symptoms
Spring weather brings so many beautiful changes to Raleigh, North Carolina. But for all of the blooming flowers and sprouting leaves, people across our region suffer seasonal allergies. So, what can you do to ease your spring allergy symptoms?
What causes springtime allergy symptoms?
Pollen is the biggest issue in springtime allergy symptoms. Pollen comes from trees, weeds, grasses and flowers. Nature designed these tiny grains to float through the air, from one plant to another. Often, they get into our noses, instead. When people with allergies breathe them in, their body gets defensive.
It is your immune system that fights pollen, working to attack the allergens with antibodies. This triggers release of histamines into your blood. Histamines are chemicals the body produces. But these helpful substances also trigger your itchy eyes, runny nose and other allergy symptoms.
The highest pollen counts in the air tend to occur on windy days. The wind carries these tiny grains through the air. Rain washes the allergens away.
The top symptoms of allergies include runny nose, sneezing, coughing, watery eyes, itchy eyes, an itchy nose and dark circles beneath your eyes. How much you suffer these allergy symptoms depends on your individual body and its allergies, as well as the environment in which you live.
Diagnosing Your Spring Allergy Symptoms
Some people have bearable allergies that simply cause a stuffy nose or dry cough. Other people cannot function without medication, due to the extreme nature of their allergy symptoms. Talk to your ENT doctor for allergy testing and to get treatment for your symptoms.
Your ENT allergy specialist provides a skin test that simply pricks the surface of your skin with a tiny amount of an allergen. This prick test is one option, whereas another is injecting a tiny amount of the allergen under your arm or back skin. These tests indicate your allergy when small red bumps called hives or wheals form where pricked or injected. A blood test works for some types of allergies, too.
Treatment Using Medication
Many medications exist to ease your allergy symptoms. These range from over-the-counter (OTC) drugs to those prescribed by your ENT doctor. The key types include:
- Antihistamines to reduce histamines in your body
- Oral decongestants relieve symptoms like swelling and congestion
- Antihistamine/decongestant combines the above effects
- Nasal spray decongestants clear your clogged nasal passages with fewer side effects than oral decongestants
- Steroid nasal sprays to reduce inflammation, with some preventing hay fever
- Eye drops to relieve your itchy or watery eyes
Before starting any medication, whether OTC or prescribed, talk to your doctor about your allergy symptoms. Many of these drugs make users sleepy and can disrupt your daytime schedule. But some are non-drowsy medications that do not provide this result. You especially need to talk to your doctor if you need allergy symptom relief for more than a few days at a time.
Options to OTC medications for longer term treatment include allergy shots, prescription medication, sublingual immunotherapy tablets and steroid nasal sprays.
Immunotherapy helps your body build up resistance by exposing you to gradually increasing amounts of your allergen. This usually helps people for longer periods of time than using allergy medication. But it is not the right treatment option for everyone.
Avoid Spring Allergens and See Your ENT Doctor
To prevent allergy symptoms this spring, follow these seven tips:
- Stay indoors on high pollen count days, particularly in mornings
- Keep doors and windows closed
- Clean your home air filters
- Use an air purifier in main rooms of your house
- Clean bookshelves, tables and vents frequently to remove pollen
- Wash your air after being outside
- Vacuum twice weekly while wearing a mask
For clear diagnosis of your allergy symptoms and to obtain proper medication or immunotherapy, schedule your visit with ENT & Audiology Associates in Raleigh, North Carolina, today. Call (919) 782-9003 to set an appointment with our friendly staff.