Allergy Season - Spring has sprung, the grass has risen, I wonder where..my tissue is?!? For most of us, Spring means warmer temperatures and new growth, but if you're one of the millions of people who have seasonal allergies, it also means sneezing, congestion, runny nose and other bothersome symptoms
Allergies occur when your immune system reacts to a foreign substance — such as pollen, or pet dander — that doesn't cause a reaction in most people.
Your immune system produces substances known as antibodies. Some antibodies protect you from unwanted invaders that could make you sick or cause infection.
When you have allergies, your immune system makes antibodies that identify a particular allergen as harmful, even though it isn't. When you come into contact with the allergen, your immune system's reaction can inflame your skin, sinuses, airways or digestive system.
Although seasonal allergies can make you miserable, you do not have to spend the entire season indoors smelling plastic flowers. Prevention is the key when it comes to allergies and there are many things you can do to keep your allergies under control.
Check your local TV station or the Internet for pollen forecasts and current pollen levels. Avoid outside activity in the early morning when pollen levels are highest. Close doors and windows at night and clean your floors often with a vacuum that has a HEPA filter. Avoid hanging laundry outside—pollen can stick to towels and sheets and remove clothes you’ve worn outside.
If allergy symptoms are bad enough to start taking a medication, an over-the-counter antihistamine such as Reactine, Claritin or Aerius is usually enough to relieve most symptoms. These medications should be started at least an hour before being exposed to the allergen. If you know when your “allergy season” is, start taking your antihistamine a week before and continue daily throughout the season. It’s more effective to prevent the allergy from developing then trying to get it under control after it begins. Over-the-counter nasal decongestants such as Otrivin or Dristan can be effective for stuffy nose but cannot be used long term. If you have been using one of these nasal sprays for more than 7 days it may be making your stuffy nose worse. Nasal rinses such as a Neti-pot can be a quick, inexpensive and very effective way to relieve nasal congestion. Rinsing directly flushes out mucus and allergens from your nose.
If over-the-counter remedies are not working for you, talk with your pharmacist. Pharmacists can now prescribe certain medications that may be more effective in relieving your symptoms and allow you to fully enjoy spring and summer outdoor activities.