Over 50 million Americans are affected by allergies annually, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. If you find yourself sneezing, wheezing, and sniffling in the springtime, take a look at the do’s and don’ts of dealing with seasonal allergies.
Do Learn the Symptoms
What are the red flags of seasonal allergies? Understanding the signs can help to distinguish an airborne allergy from a springtime cold. While the specific symptoms vary by person, they can include:
- Runny nose. Nasal symptoms such as a runny or stuffy nose are common symptoms of airborne seasonal allergies.
- Itchy eyes. Red, itchy eyes are a symptom you’re likely to have with an allergy but not often with a cold.
- Sneezing and coughing. Sneezing or a constant cough can indicate an allergy — especially when these symptoms don’t come with other signs of a cold, such as fatigue or low fever.
While understanding the differences between seasonal allergies and a common cold is a step in the right direction, you need a medical provider to make a diagnosis. Read on for more information on what to do next if you experience any of these symptoms.
Misdiagnosing seasonal allergies means you may not get the correct treatment. Instead of allowing Dr. Google to determine what’s wrong, visit a licensed medical professional. During your visit, the doctor will likely:
- Take a full medical history. This helps the doctor get a better picture of what’s going on. The doctor may ask if you’ve ever experienced allergies in the past, have other types of allergies (such as skin sensitivities or food allergies), or have a family history of allergies.
- Ask about symptoms. Know your symptoms well and provide the doctor with a full list.
- Conduct a physical exam. The doctor will need to listen to your chest (breathing) and perform a full exam to determine if you have an allergy or a respiratory viral/bacterial infection.
- Conduct a skin prick test. The medical professional will put a drop of a potential allergen on your skin and lightly scratch or prick the area with a needle. Redness or swelling in the area indicates the presence of an allergy.
- Conduct a blood test. This diagnostic test measures the antibodies your body makes to attack the allergen. The presence of the antibodies indicates an allergy.
If the doctor determines you do have a seasonal allergy, he or she will recommend a treatment plan. This plan varies, depending on the specific allergy and severity of it.
Do Follow the Doctor’s Directions
What are the possible treatments for seasonal allergies? The doctor may recommend over-the-counter or prescription medications, such as:
- Antihistamines. This type of medication blocks the trigger of the allergic reaction, stopping symptoms such as itchy eyes or sneezing.
- Corticosteroids. The doctor may prescribe either an oral or nasal version of this drug. It reduces swelling and can reduce symptoms such as a stuffy nose or itching.
- Decongestants. This drug shrinks swollen mucus membranes, relieving nasal symptoms.
Along with treating the symptoms, the doctor may recommend preventative steps to stop the allergy before it starts.
Don’t Count Out Triggers
How can you prevent an allergy? The easiest answer is to avoid triggers. After the doctor diagnoses your allergy, he or she will help you understand what your triggers are. Common seasonal allergy triggers include:
- Ragweed. According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, ragweed pollen is most abundant on warm days and cool evenings.
- Pollen. This yellow powder may dust your car or the exterior of your home in the spring or summer months. Pollen can trigger nasal or respiratory allergies along with aggravating asthma.
- Mold. Microscopic mold spores thrive in the wet, rainy, warm spring weather — causing allergic reactions.
Avoiding triggers requires taking special care during outdoor activities. Along with staying inside during high-pollen times, closing windows, cleaning your home’s air ducts, and avoiding moldy areas can reduce your seasonal symptoms.
Do you suspect seasonal allergies as the cause of your nasal or respiratory problems? Contact Stellis Health for more information and to schedule an appointment with one of our providers.