Ahhh, spring! As the weather warms up, many of us are likely to spend more time outdoors. But that sigh of “ahhh” can quickly turn into “achoo” for people with seasonal allergies.
Each year, allergies affect nearly 50 million people in the United States alone. They can affect all age groups, and it is not uncommon to develop allergies as an adult. Most adults develop allergies in their 20s and 30s.
“Essentially, when you suffer from seasonal allergies, your body is treating an otherwise harmless substance (such as pollen from ragweed, grass, trees, or flowers) like a foreign invader”, explains Nicholas Bellanco, MD,a family medicine physician with Kettering Physician Network Primary Care – Sugarcreek. “These ‘invaders’ trigger an immune system response that results in mild to severe reactions.”
Symptoms include itchy eyes, a scratchy throat, a runny nose, headaches, nasal congestion, coughing, sneezing, wheezing, itchy skin, or even hives.
Some symptoms are so moderate to severe that they require medical intervention. In fact, Dayton was ranked as the most challenging city in the Midwest for those that suffer from allergy symptoms, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America’s 2016 regional rankings.
If you think you are experiencing seasonal allergies, here are a few preventive measures to help control your symptoms:
- Avoid triggers such as cigarette smoke, pets, and allergens.
- Keep your windows closed during spring months and run your air conditioning to circulate clean air.
- Install an air filtration system.
- Clean your air filters regularly.
- Regularly clean bookshelves, vents, and other areas where pollen can collect, and vacuum at least once a week.
- Pay attention to local weather forecasts and do your best to stay indoors when mold and pollen levels are high.
- It may help to wash your hair after spending time outside, as allergens can collect there.
If avoiding these triggers is not effective in controlling your symptoms, you may need to take further steps. Many over-the-counter options help alleviate allergy symptoms. More severe allergies may require shots, prescription medications, or under-the-tongue immunotherapy tablets.
It’s possible that if your allergies are severe, a primary care physician may refer you to an allergist. Allergists can give you a skin test, which involves either pricking the surface of the skin with a tiny amount of allergen, or injecting a tiny sample of the allergen under the skin of your arm and back. If you are allergic, a small red bump will form. Sometimes, a blood test may be used instead.
If you have any questions about allergies or medications to treat them, ask your primary care provider. He or she will be able to direct you to the most effective and specific treatment option for you. Visit our website to find a primary care provider near you.