Spring, the harbinger of many good things, is a treacherous time for patients with seasonal allergies. While others are carefree, strolling through fields of daffodils, seasonal allergy sufferers are strolling through the pharmacy looking for relief from sneezing and itchy eyes. The American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology reports that an estimated 35 million Americans currently suffer from seasonal allergies, and since allergies can lead to other chronic conditions, such as asthma, they should not be taken lightly.
What are seasonal allergies?
Plants reproduce sexually by spreading pollen from one flower to another. Some plants have beautiful, scented flowers that attract insects, and the insects spread pollen around as they move from flower to flower. Other plants produce unscented flowers that don't interest insects, and these plants rely on the wind to move pollen around. As the pollen releases into the air, it is inhaled by humans and animals. If you are one of the 35 million Americans who have seasonal allergies, this pollen can be the cause of major illness.
Finding the culprit of your discomfort
Treatment begins with an accurate diagnosis. If you are suffering from severe seasonal allergies, an allergy specialist is equipped to do some simple, accurate, and painless allergy tests, and in approximately 15 minutes, the culprit responsible for your discomfort can be identified.
In general, allergy treatment begins with avoidance. Then we add medication, and if medication is not effective, we consider allergy shots, which immunize the patient to the pollen itself. It is often hard to avoid tree pollen when it's all around us in the air we breathe. But by all means, close your house and car windows. Wash you hair before going to bed if you have been out where pollen can land on your hair, and wash pets that have been outdoors.
Antihistamines and corticosteroids
If avoidance is impractical and doesn't do the trick, there are medications for your woes. The good news is that there are very effective medications for the treatment of seasonal allergies, and these medications can address a whole range of symptoms. Allergies of the eyes, nose, and lungs can all be treated with one pill or liquid.
Antihistamine pills are the best example of anti-allergy medications that treat a wide range of symptoms. These medications work by blocking the effects of histamine, which causes sneezing, itching, and wheezing. The old, over-the-counter antihistamines make people drowsy, but the newer, prescribed antihistamines are very safe and effective and cause little or no drowsiness. Corticosteroids, in spray or drop form, are also effective medication methods in the treatment of seasonal allergies. These work by blocking inflammation, which decreases irritation and swelling, and these medications work quickly when applied directly to the affected area, like the nose and eyes.
If you have allergies, your immune system is working overtime. Allergy shots get your immune system on the right track. These shots actually consist of small amounts of the offending allergen, given by injections at weekly intervals. The body slowly builds up immunity to this particular substance, and eventually your body no longer follows the allergic path in response to the allergen. Sometimes allergy shots are so effective that they remove all traces of allergic illness. Recent studies show that improvement persists for three or more years after stopping allergy shots.
Not everyone who has seasonal allergies needs allergy shots, but if your life is impaired by seasonal allergies, you should discuss this with an allergist.
Gone are the days when people need to put up with allergic illness. From simple one-pill treatments to multiple medications and allergy shots, there are solutions for the mild and severe allergy sufferers alike. Don't be a sneezy, silent sufferer& get tested, get treated, and get better!