3 years ago

Don’t let allergies keep you indoors

Do you struggle with a
runny nose or itchy eyes during the spring and summer months? You may have
seasonal allergies! Pramod Kelkar, MD, allergy & immunology specialist at
Asthma & Allergy
Care
, shares common
causes, symptoms and treatments for allergies this time of year.

Many people
don’t realize they have allergies, but instead think they’re suffering from the
common cold or a viral infection. While the symptoms can be similar, a fever
and body aches are not associated with allergies. And the common cold will go
away within seven to 10 days, while allergies last longer.

Allergies
are caused by your body overreacting to an allergen. The severity of common
allergy symptoms can vary from year to year and include:

  • runny nose
  • sneezing
  • post-nasal drip
  • nasal congestion
  • sinus pressure
  • watery and red
    eyes
  • coughing

More than 50 million Americans suffer from allergies each
year, according to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention. Allergies
can happen at any age and you rarely outgrow seasonal allergies. The most
common causes of allergies or allergens include:

  • pollen*
  • dust
  • mold
  • insect stings
  • food
  • animal dander                    
  • medications                        
  • latex

*The correlation of allergy symptoms to pollen
counts is somewhat tenuous. It is valid in some people but not in everyone.

Treatment

There is no
reason anyone should suffer from allergies and deny themselves the pleasure of
the outdoors, especially with the short summers we have in Minnesota. There are
many over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription treatment options for allergies,
and with so many choices, we can control close to 100 percent of allergic
conditions.

Many of the
medications available OTC today required a prescription just three to five
years ago. Medication costs vary greatly, so it’s important to shop and compare
prices.

Treatment
options include nose sprays, eye drops and allergy pills. One or a combination
of these OTC meds can provide relief and control allergy symptoms for most
people. Your pharmacist can help you determine the appropriate dose based on
your age and symptoms.

Following
are the most common OTC allergy meds available today:

  • ALLERGY PILLS relieve runny nose, sinus pressure
    and itchy and watery eyes. The most common brands include Allegra, Claritin and
    Zyrtec.

  • NASAL SPRAYS help with nasal congestion, sneezing and runny and itchy nose. Brands include Flonase and
    Nasacort.

  • EYE DROPS relieve itchy, irritated eyes. The
    most common brand is Zaditor.

Identify your allergens

If these
OTC products don’t provide relief from your allergy symptoms, don’t suffer in
silence. Find out what exactly you’re allergic to by visiting an allergy
specialist or allergist.

You’ll be
tested for a variety of allergens to identify the specific cause of your
allergic reaction. An allergist can help you identify ways to avoid allergens
and minimize your symptoms as well as more natural ways to control symptoms
without medications. For example, using a neti pot to rinse your sinuses with a
saline solution can relieve sinus symptoms and triggers before they have a
chance to cause inflammation.

I don’t
recommend staying indoors in air conditioned rooms to avoid allergens because
denying yourself the pleasure of the outdoors is not practical, and there are
so many health benefits to being outside.

Allergy shots

Once you
identify what triggers your allergic reaction, allergy shots or immunotherapy
combine your trigger substances into an injection and slowly desensitize your
body to these allergens. Allergy shots are given at regular intervals over
three to five years to stop or reduce allergic reactions and train your immune
system not to overreact to your triggers.

Insect stings

Most people
react to insect stings with swelling and redness that can be managed with ice
and Benadryl. But for some, insect stings can cause life threatening reactions
like closing of the throat and shortness of breath. If you have a life-threatening
or systemic reaction to the venom of honey bees, yellow jackets, yellow
hornets, white faced hornets and paper wasps, you should see an allergist for
desensitization treatment.

Allergy care

Asthma & Allergy Care Clinics and North Memorial Clinics can
help diagnose and treat allergies. To schedule with a primary care provider at
a North Memorial Clinic, call 763.581.CARE(2273) or go to northmemorialaccess.com.
To schedule with an allergy specialist at Asthma & Allergy Care, call
763-420-1010.

Get online diagnosis and
treatment
for allergies and other common illnesses at northecare.com