Tips For Surviving A Horrible Allergy Season
Experts say this spring’s allergy season may be one of the worst ones yet. Here’s how to deal with it.
This year, April really was the cruelest month for people with allergies and the rest of spring is looking pretty mean too.
Blame a perfect storm of weather conditions for the season’s awful allergies, including a snowy, rainy winter in some parts of the country that led to an abundance of tree and grass pollen a sudden shift from wintry to warm weather that encouraged the pollen’s release and windy conditions that sent particles airborne, where they enter our noses, throats, and eyes and trigger symptoms that range from congestion, sneezing, and itchy eyes to headaches, diarrhea, and even depression.
Indeed, pollen and mold spore counts hit all-time highs in certain parts of the country, making people prone to seasonal allergies even more miserable than usual, and even setting off allergies in people who usually don’t get them. “It’s been a difficult and intense spring for people with allergies,” says Mitchell R. Lester, MD, president of the New England Society of Allergy.
The five worst cities for allergies this spring are Knoxville, Tenn Louisville, Ky Charlotte, N.C. Jackson, Miss., and Chattanooga, Tenn., according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation, which uses an algorithm that includes airborne pollen and mold counts, and the number of allergy medications taken and allergy specialists available in each city.
Seasonal Allergies on the Rise
Are You Really Struggling With Allergies
Stay out of the pollen and talk to an eCare medical provider anytime, anywhere 24/7 for nonurgent health issues, including cough, sinus discomfort and sore throat.
An allergy happens when the immune system reacts to a substance, such as pollen, and releases histamine, a chemical found in some of the bodys cells. After histamine is released, symptoms appear in the nose, sinuses, eyes, throat and even ears, skin and stomach. Many times the result is a runny nose, sneezing, headaches, itchy and watery eyes and sore throat.
If youre struggling, there are some things you can do to reduce your reactions and also soothe your symptoms, according to Rachel Alexander, APRN, Norton eCare:
1. Limit your time outdoors. Pollen counts are highest in midday, early evening and when its windy.
2. Use air conditioning both in the car and in your home. Consider a HEPA filter for your home.
3. Shower in the evening to wash the pollen off before bedtime. Be sure to thoroughly wash your hair. The steam from the shower is sometimes beneficial in relieving symptoms.
4. Use a saline rinse to clear pollen from nasal passages. There are several varieties out there, from neti pots to special sprayers and even electronic devices. Talk to your health care provider about the best options for you.
5. Keep pets out of your bedroom if they have been outdoors. This reduces the amount of pollen in your sleeping area.
6. Dry clothes in a dryer, not outdoors on a clothesline.
Dietary Changes May Bring Relief
Certain foods can exasperate your allergic reactions, so its wise to take a look at your diet.
You can also take a test to determine which foods youre most sensitive too . But some common munchies tend to increase inflammation no matter your tolerance to them.
For instance, highly processed foods, sugar, caffeine, tobacco, many dairy products, and soy are highly inflammatory.
You can also enjoy probiotic-packed goods, including kefir and kombucha, and include plenty of fresh veggies, especially leafy greens, and lean protein sources. Learning how to cure allergies naturally has to include at least some minor dietary changes.
In addition, cutting back on red meat may help also.
In fact, though, a recent study by the National Institutes of Health found that people with high levels of trans oleic acid in their systems were 3 times more likely to suffer from hay fever.
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You Probably Don’t Have These Symptoms
Remember, some of the symptoms in the first two sections may also be symptoms of COVID-19, so if you feel under the weather, you should get tested for COVID-19 to be sure. A runny nose and sneezing, in particular, are common allergy symptoms and common symptoms of COVID-19.
If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, there’s a good chance you have a cold, COVID-19 or another virus:
- Aches and pains throughout your body
- Severe headache
- Sore throat
If you know you’re allergic to pollen, you can try an app like Zyrtec AllergyCast to check the pollen counts and see if it’s a good idea to go outside.
How Do You Treat Allergies
Most allergy sufferers can find relief from over-the-counter allergy medications.
Nasal sprays or intranasal steroid sprays, such as Flonase or Nasacort, are a good first line option because side effects are minimal, consisting mostly of nasal dryness or bleeding for some people. Its important to note that nasal sprays need to be in your system for a while before taking effect. Expect them to be in your system for up to a week before they really start to kick in.
Over-the-counter antihistamines, such as Zyrtec, Allegra or Claritin, can be a good option if nasal sprays arent effective or if you dont tolerate nasal sprays well. In most cases sprays and antihistamines can be combined when symptoms are especially bad.
If youre still struggling with symptoms after trying out some over the counter medications, it might be time to see an allergy specialist.
At your first appointment youll talk about your medical history and your symptoms and most patients will undergo skin testing. Skin testing involves pricking the skin with a trace amount of different allergens and measuring the skins reaction after about 20 minutes. Your appointment could last a few hours, but youll receive definitive information about what you are allergic to, as well as a personalized treatment plan.
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Consider Nasal Washing With Sinus Rinses
Sinus rinses are a popular allergy treatment that you can do at home, working well with antihistamines and nasal sprays. The neti pot may be one of the most recognizable sinus rinse products.
A neti pot can be picked up at any local drugstore or online, and typically comes with packets to mix with warm, distilled water to create a saltwater solution. Using the pot to pour the solution through your nasal cavities, you can flush out gunk and allergens to reduce swelling and ease symptoms.
Care Advice For Nose Allergies Or Hay Fever
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How Long Does It Take For An Allergic Reaction To Clear Up
It might take anything from a few hours to many days for them to vanish. If the allergen exposure is prolonged, such as during a pollen season in the spring, allergy responses may linger for a longer period of time, ranging from a few weeks to several months. Although most allergy responses are resolved within two to four weeks with appropriate treatment, some may take up to four weeks.
What Medicines Can I Take For Allergies
Some people dont take allergy medicines because they dont think their symptoms are serious. They may say, Its only my allergies. This can result in painful problems such as sinus or ear infections. Dont take the risk. There are many safe prescription and over-the-counter medicines to relieve allergy symptoms. Here is a short list of allergy medicines:
- Nasal corticosteroids are nose sprays. They reduce swelling. Swelling causes a stuffy, runny and itchy nose. They are the most effective medicines for nasal allergies.
- Antihistamines block histamine, a trigger of allergic swelling. They can calm sneezing, itching, runny nose and hives. They come in pills, liquids, melting tablets or nose sprays. These treat seasonal and indoor allergies.
- Mast cell stabilizers keep your body from releasing histamine. This can help with itchy, watery eyes or an itchy, runny nose. They are available as eye drops or nose sprays.
- reduce stuffiness by shrinking swollen membranes in the nose. But be careful. Using these sprays more than three days in a row may cause the swelling and stuffiness in your nose to get worse. This can happen even after you stop using the medicine. This reaction is a rebound reaction.
- Corticosteroid creams or ointments relieve itchiness and stop the spread of rashes. See your doctor if your rash does not go away after using this cream for a week. Corticosteroids are not the same as anabolic steroids used illegally by some athletes to build muscles.
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How You Can Eliminate A Food Allergy
Its not completely clear how, but scientists think a combination of factors, from genetics to the environment, play a role in children developing allergies to food such as peanuts, milk or shellfish. Many children will outgrow their food allergies. But for those who dont, physicians have figured out a way to harness the bodys immune response to eliminate allergic reactions to food. Eli Silver, MD, a pediatric allergy and immunology specialist at UH Rainbow Babies & Childrens Hospital, explains.
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To treat a moderate allergic response to shellfish using drugs such as antihistamines to lessen signs and symptoms such as a rash and itching, your doctor may advise you to consume less shellfish in the future. Its probable that youll require an emergency injection of epinephrine if you experience a severe allergic response to shellfish .
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What Is An Allergic Reaction
Allergic or hypersensitive reaction is excessive sensitivity exhibited by your immune system to a conventionally harmless substance such as pollen, dust, and certain foods. These substances are not dangerous to the majority of people, but when they trigger allergic reactions, they are called allergens. Allergic reactions occur when the allergens contact the skin, are inhaled, swallowed, or injected.
Allergic reactions are quite common and may happen seconds to hours after contact with the allergen. Though many allergic reactions are mild, others may be dangerous or life-threatening. They may be localized, involve a small part of the body, or may affect a large area or the whole body.
An allergic reaction begins with touching, inhaling, or swallowing an allergen. In response to this trigger, the body starts making a type of protein called IgE or immunoglobulin E. IgE leads to the release of some chemicals in the body. These chemicals cause the inflammatory symptoms of allergic reactions such as rash, itching, and sneezing.
Avoid Exposure To Allergens
Whether you have severe or milder allergic reactions, knowing what triggers your allergies is important so you can avoid them. Avoidance is the most effective way to prevent any allergic reaction, including anaphylaxis. Develop an avoidance plan with your doctor thats customized to your age, lifestyle and home environment.
Carefully read food labels and labels of other products that could contain allergens. And be aware that fragrances and dyes can irritate your skin.
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How To Get Allergy Relief At Home
Even though they can be annoying or downright uncomfortable, most allergy symptoms are not serious. Here are a few ways that you can get relief from your allergies at home:
- Use air filters: Air filters purify the air and remove pollutants or substances that can aggravate allergy symptoms.
- Turn on a dehumidifier: By removing moisture from the air, you can turn your home into an environment where certain allergens such as mold would find it difficult to survive.
- Shut windows and doors: Keep your home’s doors and windows closed to lessen the number of pollutants in the air.
- Monitor pollen levels: Regularly check the pollen counts where you live to help you plan ahead for high-pollen days.
- Remove houseplants: Depending on the type of plants you have in your home, they might promote mold growth. You may want to avoid having houseplants or remove any that you think could be triggering your allergy symptoms or making them worse.
- Try a sinus rinse: Sinus rinses are saline solutions used to rinse your nasal passages. Some studies have suggested that sinus rinses are effective at treating and managing allergy symptoms, especially if they are mostly affecting your nose.
- Vacuum often: Vacuuming frequently will help reduce the amount of allergy-causing dust, dander, and debris in your home.
Talk With Your Doctor About Seasonal Allergy Testing Or Allergy Shots
Allergy testing can help your care provider diagnose your exact allergies and come up with a treatment plan to help relieve your symptoms.
Allergy tests are pretty simple. The tests are performed on your skin at a clinic that offers allergy testing. This determines what allergens are causing your symptoms.
Depending on how severe your allergies appear to be, your doctor may recommend immunotherapy with allergy shots to help reduce and maybe even eliminate your bodys reaction to environmental allergens.
These shots help teach your body to not be allergic and are given over the course of a couple of years until a target dose is reached. Once the right dosage has been reached, your doctor will work with you on a maintenance schedule.
Allergy shots are the most effective way of treating allergies and work better than most prescription medications. A course of allergy shots can give you long-term symptom relief that could last for 5-10 years. Many people have symptom relief the rest of their life. You can discuss the cost of allergy shots with your insurance provider.
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Use A Saline Sinus Rinse
When allergies cause sinus problems, the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology recommend a person rinse their sinuses with saline. This can remove allergens and clear the airways.
The AAAAI recommend the following saline recipe:
- mix 3 teaspoons of salt with 1 teaspoon of baking soda
- add 1 teaspoon of this mixture to 8 ounces of boiled water
- dissolve the mixture in the water then use as a saline rinse
Sinus rinsing devices can be purchased online or from a pharmacy.
In Other Words If You’re Not Sure Whether You’re Dealing With Allergies Or Something Else Entirely Think About When Your Symptoms Seem To Flare Up The Most
For instance, Dr. Koufman says, a good sign that it’s truly your allergies acting up is if they flare spontaneously in reaction to allergens like dust or pollen. Otherwise, she explains, if you’re just dealing with these symptoms on a regular, consistent basis, with no apparent trigger to blame, then it could be a sign of reflux.
Of course, this might seem a little confusing, since acid reflux is commonly associated with middle-aged adults who have trouble eating foods like bacon and chili, and do things like clutch their chest and yell out “heartburn!” But in truth, Healthline reports that roughly 20 percent of the entire U.S. population has acid reflux. What’s more, Dr. Koufman says, acid reflux can lead to a whole host of symptoms, plenty of which can feel like an allergy attack, or a particularly bad case of asthma.
In case you’re not really sure what acid reflux even is , it’s basically what happens when your stomach acid flows backward up into your esophagus, according to Mayo Clinic, which is why people often feel a burning sensation in their chest, or taste something sour in their mouth when they have this condition. But in terms of the full laundry list of symptoms associated with reflux, Dr. Koufman notes, there are several that could easily be mistaken for allergies, including asthma, trouble breathing when exercising, a stuffy nose, tonsillitis, a runny nose, ear infections, sinus infections, a raspy voice that all probably sounds really familiar, right?
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Is There A Way To Permanently Cure Allergies
According to most doctors, the answer is unfortunately no. They will likely tell you to seek allergy shots or take medication on an ongoing basis.
That being said there is an alternative treatment called Nambudripads Allergy Elimination Technique which claims to be able to cure allergies.
Its important to point out, however, that I dont believe any medical evidence exists to support that claim.
But the National Institutes of Health did conduct a recent study on food allergies and the impact that Dr. Devi Nambudripads techniques had on them.
They concluded that This case report highlights the possible benefit of NAET for children with food allergy. Considering the burden of food allergy, especially to young children, randomized clinical trials should be encouraged to study the effectiveness of NAET in treating food allergy.
But even that aside, there are extensive studies to support all of the natural remedies and treatments we get into below, and many from really credible medical sources such as WebMD, the National Institutes of Health, and several respected medical journals.
So what are the . . .