What Causes Allergic Rhinitis
If you have allergies, your body releases chemicals when you are exposed to an allergen. One such chemical is called histamine. Histamine is your bodys defense against the allergen. The release of histamine causes your symptoms.
Hay fever is an allergic reaction to pollen. Pollen comes from flowering trees, grass, and weeds. If you are allergic to pollen, you will notice your symptoms are worse on hot, dry days when wind carries the pollen. On rainy days, pollen often is washed to the ground, which means you are less likely to breathe it. Your allergies can vary depending on the time of year:
- Allergies that occur in the spring are often due to tree pollen.
- Allergies that occur in the summer are often due to grass and weed pollen.
- Allergies that occur in the fall are often due to ragweed.
Allergens that can cause perennial allergic rhinitis include:
- Mold is common where water tends to collect, such as shower curtains and damp basements. It can also be found in rotting logs, hay, and mulch. This allergy is usually worse during humid and rainy weather.
- Animal dander.The skin, saliva, and urine of furry pets such as cats and dogs are allergens. You can be exposed to dander when handling an animal or from house dust that contains dander.
- Many allergens, including dust mites, are in dust. Dust mites are tiny living creatures found in bedding, mattresses, carpeting, and upholstered furniture. They live on dead skin cells and other things found in house dust.
Make An Appointment To Treat Your Allergies
Do not let your allergy symptoms control you. If you would like to get relief from your allergies and receive the most effective treatment option for long-term health and wellness, contact Breathe Clear today to schedule an appointment. Our team seeks to alleviate suffering from the conditions that affect your quality of life and is dedicated to providing you with the best experience possible.
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No Youre Not Imagining It: Seasonal Allergies Are Worse This Year
School of Medicines Fred Little on reasons for the spike and what you can do about it
Its that time of year againyoure sitting outdoors enjoying the sunshine, when all of a sudden, you start to feelitchy. Within an hour, that itch has turned into a full-blown sneeze attack complete with watery eyes and congestion, and now youre running to the nearest pharmacy to buy some Zyrtec.
Seasonal allergiesor an allergic reaction to the tree and grass pollens that float around in the spring and summer, known as allergic rhinitisaffect nearly 60 million people in the United States every year. This year, theyre particularly bad in the Northeast, which can be attributed to factors such as climate change and recent dry spells, says longtime allergist Fred Little, a Boston University School of Medicine clinical associate professor of medicine and the director of the Boston Medical Center allergy-immunology fellowship.
We spoke with Little about how allergies work and what you can do to cut down on the sneezing, itching, and watery eyes.
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Ideally You Want To Start Taking Allergy Meds Before Your Symptoms Are Kicking Your Ass
For people who know they get seasonal allergies, it’s usually best to start taking meds in early April. That’s because it’s easier to control your symptoms before the inflammation gets too out of hand.
“It’s always best to be proactive because then you can kind of nip it in the bud before it gets out of control, before you need stronger medication,” says Parikh.
Of course, that doesn’t mean you’re screwed if you’re already suffering and you haven’t started medications. Just take something as soon as possible, rather than waiting until you seriously can’t breathe. So, about that medication…
How Allergy Drugs Work
Much of the confusion regarding the loss of a drug effect stems from the misuse of the terms “immunity” and “resistance.”
Immunity is the body’s defense against a harmful substance. Resistance describes the process wherein a bacteria, virus, or other disease-causing agent changes and is able to overcome the effects of the drug. Neither of these processes applies to changes in how certain allergy medications work.
With an allergy, the immune system overreacts to an otherwise harmless substance and floods the body with a chemical known as histamine. The main function of histamine is to trigger inflammation, the body’s natural response to injury. It does so by dilating blood vessels so that immune cells can get closer to the site of an injury or infection.
In the absence of injury or infection, histamine can trigger an array of adverse symptoms, including itching, rash, sneezing, runny nose, stomach ache, nausea, and vomiting. Allergy medications are used to counter these effects because they are able to block the inflammatory process.
In none of these instances does a substance mutate or the immune system alters its natural response. What happens instead is that the body develops a tolerance to the drug, particularly if overused.
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Myth: All I Need To Control My Allergies Indoors Is An Air Cleaner
Fact: An air cleaner or purifier will only remove allergens floating in the air. They do nothing for pollen and mold spores on your clothes, shoes, or hair that you bring in from outside.
Air cleaners are one part of an overall strategy to reduce allergens indoors. Keeping windows shut when pollen counts are high is essential. Showering after being outside, and regular dusting and vacuuming may also help control allergy symptoms.
Seasonal Allergies Can Cause Oral Allergies
Many of my hay fever patients describe to me problems eating apples in the springtime, says Jon E. Stahlman, MD, FCAAI, section chief of allergy at Childrens Healthcare of Atlanta and part of the clinical staff at Gwinnett Medical Center in Lawrenceville, Georgia. They get an itchy mouth, throat, or the sensation that their tongue is starting to swell. Usually, they stop eating many other fresh fruits or vegetablesbananas, cherries, avocado, carrots, celerybecause they cause similar symptoms. Curiously, they can eat these foods if they are cooked.
If youre experiencing this, youre not allergic to those foods, but you may still have to avoid them. I usually explain to patients that their problem is related to their severe pollen allergies, especially if they are allergic to birch trees or ragweed. We call this oral allergy syndrome and it can be treated simply by avoiding the fresh forms of these foods, Dr. Stahlman says. Here are 10 new solutions for seasonal allergies.
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Give Your Sinuses A Bath
For a medication-free option, consider nasal irrigation. The practice traces back thousands of years to the Ayurvedic medical traditions of India and its effectiveness is backed by research. To try it yourself, use a neti pot, bulb syringe or squeeze bottle and pour a saline solution in one nostril, letting it drain out the other.
It seems like a simple concept, but it helps flush out mucus, pollen and other allergens in your nasal cavity, said Dr. Laura Chong, an allergist at the Oklahoma Allergy & Asthma Clinic in Oklahoma City.
The result is that you feel less congested and you may need less allergy medication, Dr. Chong said.
Use Vacuums With Special Filters
Your carpets are filled with possible allergens. Vacuuming is a great way to eliminate them, but be sure to use a special filter or youre just spreading the allergens around your house. If youve got carpet, make sure to vacuum with a machine that has either a HEPA filter or special allergy containing bags, says Andrew Engler, MD medical director for The Allergy & Asthma Clinic in San Mateo, California. Otherwise you end up sucking distilled mites out of the carpet and blowing them all over the room. These HEPA filter vacuums are great options for those with allergies.
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Ah Spring The Beautiful Time Of Year When Trees And Flowers Are Trying To Kill You
Whether you’ve dealt with seasonal allergies most of your life or you’re just feeling the hellish effects of pollen for the first time this year, there are actually ways to minimize the struggle. BuzzFeed Health spoke with two allergists to get their advice for getting through allergy season without sneezing out your insides.
And FYI: Even though we interviewed allergists for this article, the information below is not a substitute for personalized medical advice.
What Is Allergic Rhinitis
Allergic rhinitis is the medical term for hay fever or nasal allergies. By definition, allergic rhinitis is swelling of the nasal passages caused by allergens. Its important to note that while many people refer to it as hay fever, it is not caused by hay. Nor does is cause a fever. Allergic rhinitis is triggered by having allergies. You have an allergy when your body overreacts to things that dont cause problems for most people. These things are called allergens.
There are 2 forms of allergic rhinitis:
- Seasonal :Caused by an allergy to pollen and/or mold spores in the air. Pollen is the fine powder that comes from flowering plants. It can be carried through the air and is easily inhaled. Symptoms are seasonal and usually occur in spring, late summer, and fall. This is the most common form of allergy.
- Perennial:Caused by other allergens such as dust mites, pet hair or dander, or mold. Symptoms occur year-round.
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Myth: Ive Never Had Allergies Before So This Runny Nose Must Be A Cold
Fact: You can develop new allergies at any time, even as an adult. Are your eyes, nose and throat are itchy? Do you have a stuffy nose, inflamed nasal passages, or a runny nose with clear and thin nasal drip? Have your symptoms lasted more than two weeks? These are signs of seasonal allergies or allergic rhinitis. See an allergist for testing and to discuss treatment options, including allergen immunotherapy.
Spring allergies can really zap the joy out of spring. During the COVID-19 pandemic, even a runny nose can have you wondering if you have seasonal allergies or COVID-19. Understanding the myths surrounding spring allergies can help you control your spring allergies rather than spring allergies controlling you.
Don Bukstein, MD, FACAAI, is a board-certified allergist and immunologist and pediatric pulmonologist. He serves as Medical Director for Allergy & Asthma Network. He also volunteers at a Medicaid clinic in inner city Milwaukee. He is the former Director of Allergy and Asthma Research at Dean Medical Center in Madison.
8229 Boone Blvd, Suite 260,Vienna, VA 22182
Youre Starting Treatment Too Late
If you know you have bad pollen allergies, start treating them even before you have symptoms, suggests Smith. Watch the counts, and as soon as they start to rise, start taking your usual medication, he says. Once your body ramps up its release of histamines and inflammatory chemicals, theyre that much harder to treat. Here are tips on how to pollen-proof your life.
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You Need To Take Allergy Medications Daily
While you might think you only need allergy medicines when youre having symptoms, newer medicines are designed to be used daily for prevention. Most allergy medications work best when taken daily, and now there are a number of great options available over the counter without a doctors prescription, Dr. Engler says.
Try multiple types until you find the one that works best for you. Many allergy sufferers make the mistake of thinking that if youve tried one, youve tried them all. Fortunately, thats usually not the case. However, make sure you are really trying a new medication by checking the active ingredientstwo brand-name products may contain the same active ingredient so read the labels carefully. Next, find out the surprising triggers of allergies that arent pollen.
You Wont Build Up A Medicine Tolerance
Dont be afraid to use allergy medicines if you need them. Your body wont get used to them, despite the persistent allergy myth. The majority of allergy sufferers64 percentbelieve that if you use one brand of allergy medication for a period of time, you can build up a tolerance and it will stop working, says Neeta Ogden, MD, adult and pediatric allergist, asthma specialist, and immunologist in private practice in New Jersey. Many allergy sufferers have also changed their allergy medication because of this perception. However, physiologically, it just isnt possible. Whats more likely happening is that their allergy symptoms are getting more severe. The reality is that allergy season tends to get worse each year, so its more important than ever for allergy sufferers to manage their symptoms.
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How To Cope With Hay Fever Symptoms
Regardless of whether your allergies are mild or severe, or if it is a skin or eye allergy, it doesnt take long for you to start feeling lousy after seasonal allergy symptoms strike. So how do you prevent seasonal allergies from getting in the way of your day? Here are some helpful tips to reduce or keep symptoms from worsening.
Reduce Pollen At Home
Avoid bringing pollen back inside after youve been outdoors. Take your shoes off and change your clothes when you get home. Shower before going to bed to remove pollen from your body. And dont have your furry pets sleep with you, Dr. Hong said. Even if youre not allergic to your pets, there is pollen on their coats.
In order to sleep better, you can try zipping up your mattress and pillows in hypoallergenic encasements, washing bedding in hot soapy water once a week and using a dryer instead of a clothesline.
Dr. Hong also recommended cleaning and replacing your air-conditioner filter with one that has a Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value of 11 or higher. These filters are capable of capturing tiny pollen particles. If you have severe allergies, you may even want to splurge for a professional-style HEPA filter in your bedroom. HEPA filters typically have a MERV rating of 17 or higher and remove 99 percent of pollen, as well as animal dander, dust and other particles.
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Myth: Moving To A Drier Climate The Us Southwest For Example Will Cure My Spring Allergies
Fact: There really is no allergy-free zone. Pollen allergies can occur anywhere. Deserts have plenty of plants that produce pollen, such as sagebrush, cottonwood and olive trees. When the pollen count is high, you may experience symptoms.
Relocating may offer temporary relief. But allergies to local plants could develop before long. The timing of your seasonal allergies and your allergic symptoms may vary in a different climate, but they may not vanish altogether. So, before you consider moving to help manage your pollen allergies, talk to a healthcare professional about treatment options. Travel may also affect your allergies, so read about our tips for spring travel.
Anything With D On The Label Also Contains A Decongestant Which Experts Do Not Recommend Taking For More Than A Few Days
These contain pseudoephedrine, an over-the-counter nasal decongestant .
“These are OK to use on an as-needed basis, but the pseudoephedrine on a daily basis can have a lot of negative side effects,” Dr. Nicholas Hartog, allergist and immunologist at Spectrum Health Helen DeVos Childrens Hospital, tells BuzzFeed Health. “Your body gets used to it needs more and more. Your congestion overcomes it.” Both allergists also warn that long-term use can raise your blood pressure.
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When Literally Nothing Is Working Check In With An Allergist To Find Out What’s Up
If you’ve tried everything above and you’re still miserable, it’s time to see an allergist. They can test you to see exactly what you’re allergic to, so that you can avoid your triggers as much as possible.
An allergist might also suggest allergy shots if your symptoms aren’t getting better with other treatment and it’s significantly affecting your quality of life. This usually requires weekly shots for the first six months, then monthly maintenance shots. After five years, many people have a lasting effect, meaning no more allergies.
There are also a few FDA-approved sublingual allergy therapies, says Hartog, which might be an option depending on what you’re allergic to.
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