- Allergies are very common and are increasing in prevalence. In the United States up to 30% of adults and 40% of children suffer from this chronic problem.
- You may develop allergies at any age.
- Allergies may be seasonal or year round.
- Allergies occur when your own immune system overreacts to common substances such as grass, pollen, dust, nuts, medications or pet dander which are then referred to as allergens.
- When an allergen is encountered, antibodies (proteins made to protect you) are produced and lead to the release of chemicals called histamines which cause the telltale symptoms of allergies: swelling, inflammation, itching and mucus production.
- Do you sneeze a lot?
- Are your eyes often itchy or watery?
- Do you have to blow your nose frequently or does your nose run?
- Is your nose congested?
- Do you get itchy rashes or hives?
- Avoidance of allergens is the best method to avoid allergy attacks, although at times this may be difficult.
- Medications are used to control symptoms and include over the counter oral antihistamines and/or nasal sprays.
- Zyrtec, Claritin and Allegra and oral over the counter medications that are much less sedating than Benadryl.
- Zyrtec-D, Claritin-D and Allegra-D combine the allergy medication with a decongestant for a more powerful decrease in swelling although they can cause increased blood pressure or heart rate.
- Nasal sprays are available both over the counter and by prescription. Steroid nasal sprays such as Flonase or Nasocort are usually the first go to option and can be very effective for nasal congestion and a runny nose. Keep in mind these sprays must be used daily to work and take several days to take effect. Antihistamine nasal sprays such as Astelin are also useful and may be used in conjunction with steroid sprays. Please see the link on the left for proper use of nasal spray medications.
- Nasal saline can be used as a rinse or a spray to cleanse your nose of the allergens you breathed in throughout the day.
- Allergy testing is available to help you figure out exactly what substance(s) you are allergic to.
- Immunotherapy is the process of teaching your body not to react to the allergens through allergy shots or drops under the tongue.