Spring allergies are on the rise. According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, allergies affect more than 50 million people in the United States, with about 8% of adults suffering from allergic rhinitis (hay fever). This makes allergies the nation’s sixth leading chronic illness. If you’re one of the millions who suffer, here are some steps you can take to limit your misery and downtime.
How to Handle Spring Allergy Symptoms
Spring allergy symptoms typically fall into one of three categories: mild, moderate, or severe. Depending on your response to the offending allergens, your healthcare practitioner may recommend treatments ranging from simple avoidance tactics, to at-home remedies, to allergy shots (immunotherapy), or prescription inhalants.
Symptoms such as watery eyes, sniffling, and sneezing can be mildly annoying at best. But if the severity of your spring allergy symptoms interferes with routine activities like work or school, it’s time to take action.
Seasonal Allergies Treatment
Before recommending seasonal allergies treatment, your healthcare provider will take into consideration your age, the severity of your symptoms, your overall health and medical history, and your personal preferences. For some people, allergy relief may be a simple matter of staying away from allergy triggers. Others, such as those who spend a lot of time outdoors, may require allergy shots or prescription medication
Avoidance: Simply put, avoidance means removing the substance or substances that trigger an allergic response. Examples of this would include nasal irrigation and saline sprays that work to flush irritants from nasal passages.
Immunotherapy: This method desensitizes allergy sufferers to common allergy triggers by gradually exposing them to the offending allergens. This can be accomplished through a series of allergy shots, or by dissolving tablets under the tongue. Your healthcare provider will determine the required dosage and duration of treatment. This is not a method for fast relief, however. Immunotherapy can take up to one year or longer before it’s fully effective.
Medication: There are a number of medication types, both over-the-counter and prescription, for treating allergy symptoms. These include antihistamines to prevent hay fever symptoms, decongestants to ease nasal congestion, or a variety of symptoms-based corticosteroids.
A mast cell stabilizer works by preventing the release of mucous-causing histamines in the body. For example, cromolyn is used to treat nasal symptoms such as swelling and congestion. For those with serious or life-threatening allergic reactions, epinephrine may be prescribed as an immediate remedy for either an anaphylaxis or anaphylactic reaction, while waiting for emergency medical help to arrive.
Seasonal Allergy Remedies to Try at Home
At-home seasonal allergy remedies range from over-the-counter medications, available at most pharmacies, to natural remedies you may already have on hand. Although these allergy relief remedies are available without prescription, you should still discuss their use with your healthcare provider. Antihistamines can leave you drowsy, and neither antihistamines nor decongestants should be taken for more than a few days, without consulting a medical professional.
Nasal decongestants: These are available in both spray and pill form, and in some cases, include an antihistamine to combine the benefits of both drugs. In general, nasal spray decongestants clear nasal passages faster than oral medications, and with fewer side effects.
In addition, some forms of steroid nasal sprays are available without prescription. These are often the preferred method of initial treatment, since they prevent hay fever by stopping the body’s release of histamine, which triggers allergy symptoms.
Eye drops: Used to relieve itchy, watery eyes, eye drops are typically available over the counter.
Irrigation tools: A squeeze bottle or neti pot, a device resembling a small teapot, can be used with a combination of salt, baking soda, and warm water to clear sinuses of mucus.
Special Help for Kids’ Allergies
In kids, allergies can be more complicated to diagnose. Your child may require a blood test to look for lgE, an antibody that signals an allergic reaction in the body. Although types of medications for kids’ allergies are similar to those for adults, many are available in liquid form, which makes them easier to administer to children.
Know When to Seek Medical Help
If allergy symptoms regularly cause missed time from work or school, or interfere with quality sleep, it’s time to get a professional diagnosis. Your local FastMed provider is available during extended hours, 365 days a year, to assist with seasonal allergy diagnosis and remedies. No appointment is required. Simply walk in at your convenience or check in and register online first to save time.
FastMed Urgent Care owns and operates nearly 200 centers in North Carolina, Arizona and Texas that provide a broad range of acute/episodic and preventive healthcare services 365 days a year. FastMed also provides workers’ compensation and other occupational health services at all its centers, and family and sports medicine services at select locations. FastMed has successfully treated more than six million patients and is the only independent urgent care operator in North Carolina, Arizona and Texas to be awarded The Joint Commission’s Gold Seal of Approval® for quality, safety and infection control in ambulatory healthcare. For more information about locations, services, hours of operation, insurance and prices, visit www.fastmed.com.