Allergy Season is here again!

We are excited that spring is here. There are many thinks to enjoy outdoors as the weather gets warmer and bloms and flowers are covering the landscape.

This is nature's beaty at its finest … unless you suffer from allergies. Profuse nasal congestion, sneezes, runny nose, wheezes, itchy red eyes and headaches make the victim feel miserable.

25 million to 35 million Americans is estimated to be suffering from these symptoms. In the beginning of spring, tree pollens and grass pollens continue to bloom through the end of fall. Weeds, however, begin to pollinate in the middle of summer and continue throughout autumn.

However, the length of time of allergic symptoms gradually increases to a few months and eventually becomes all year round, or perennial.
Estimated 25 million people with sinus problems live in the United States. Many times, sinus symptoms are a result of an untreated allergic condition. This condition can be successfully treated by your Physician.

Knowing exactly what you are allergic to can help you lessen or prevent exposure and treat your reactions.

There are several tests to pinpoint allergies:

Allergy skin tests- Allergy skin testing is considered the most sensitive testing method and provides rapid results. The most common test is the “prick test,” which involves pricking the skin with the extract of a specific allergen, then observing the skin’s reaction.
Serum-specific IgE antibody testing- These blood tests provide information similar to allergy skin testing.

Allergy Treatment:

For allergy sufferers, the best treatment is to avoid the offending allergens altogether. This may be possible if the allergen is a specific food, like peanuts, which can be cut out of the diet, but not when the very air we breathe is loaded with allergens, such as ragweed pollen. Air purifiers, filters, humidifiers, and conditioners provide varying degrees of relief, but none is 100 percent effective. Various over-the-counter or prescription medications offer relief, too.

Antihistamines- These medications counter the effects of histamine, the substance that makes eyes water and noses itch and causes sneezing during allergic reactions. Sleepiness was a problem with the first generation of antihistamines, but the newest drugs do not cause such a problem.
Nasal steroids- These anti-inflammatory sprays help decrease inflammation, swelling, and mucus production. They work well in combination with antihistamines and, in low doses for brief periods of time, are relatively free of side effects.
Cromolyn sodium. A nasal spray, cromolyn sodium can help stop hay fever, perhaps by blocking release of histamine and other symptom-producing chemicals. It has few side effects.
Decongestants- Available in capsule and spray form, decongestants thin nasal secretions and can reduce swelling and sinus discomfort. Intended for short-term use, they are usually used in combination with antihistamines. Long-term usage of spray decongestants can actually make symptoms worse, while decongestant pills do not have this problem.
Immunotherapy- Immunotherapy (allergy shots) might provide relief for patients who don’t find relief with antihistamines or nasal steroids. They alter the body’s immune response to allergens, thereby helping to prevent allergic reactions. Current immunotherapy treatments are limited because of potential side effects.

First step is to consult your primary care Physician.

Author
Neda Motameni, MD Dr. Neda Motameni completed her Internal Medicine residency at State University of New York Health Science Center in Brooklyn, NY. Board certified in Internal Medicine and licensed in Virginia, Maryland, Florida and California. Dr. Motameni's experience expands as a hospitalist, primary care and urgent care provider. She has years of experience in managing acute and chronic illnesses, minor trauma/injuries, laceration repair and more. She practices at Dalewood Medical Center, Woodbridge, VA and Internal Medicine Practice, Vienna, VA.

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