Controlling allergies may be possible without overindulging in antihistamines. See if the following tips can help you combat allergies this spring.
1. What's the problem? Most seasonal allergies are triggered by pollen, but different tree, grass or weed pollens might affect you differently. Check the news to see which pollen levels are high when your symptoms are flaring. For more precise testing, visit an allergist.
Advertisement2. Create a pollen prevention plan. Rene Albert Leon, M.D., a board-certified allergist and immunologist on the medical staff at Baylor Regional Medical Center at Grapevine, recommends these steps:
.Close your windows and doors; use your air conditioning.
.Pollen levels are highest in the morning, so schedule your outdoor activities for afternoons or evenings.
.Change your clothes after you come in from outside.
.Bathe before bed to keep pollen off pillows and sheets.
.Wash your hands if you pet an animal that's been outside.
3. Fight your symptoms. Your allergies could lead to itchy eyes, a runny nose, sneezing, a scratchy throat or nasal congestion. Try saline eye drops and nose sprays first. If you don't get relief with those treatments, talk with your doctor about taking over-the-counter (OTC) antihistamines, with or without decongestants. Be sure to let him know if you are on medication for a chronic condition, as some allergy medications can cause harmful interactions with other drugs.
If symptoms persist, visit your doctor, who can prescribe a stronger version of an OTC medication, a steroid nasal spray or a leukotriene modifier—an asthma medication that's showing promise in treating allergy symptoms.
For the most severe allergy cases, immunotherapy—commonly known as allergy shots—can provide relief. An allergist will test you to see which allergens trigger responses then help desensitize your body so you no longer have symptoms.
"These are usually very effective," Dr. Leon says.
With a new procedure, called rush immunotherapy, people can complete the allergy-shot process more quickly, getting to symptom relief sooner.