4 strategies for managing your seasonal allergies
Here's how to manage symptoms of seasonal allergies.
Seasonal allergy sufferers know all too well the torment their bodies are subjected to at the whim of Mother Nature, often for weeks or months on end. For the legions of people beset with symptoms such as stuffy or runny noses, itchy or watery eyes and profuse sneezing, their top priority is relief. Let’s look at some strategies for managing seasonal allergies.
Maintain your home as a place of refuge
When the local weathercaster reports that pollen counts are particularly high, you might decide the best place to be is curled up on the couch with the TV remote and a box of tissues at the ready. Keep doors and windows closed as much as possible, and be sure your HVAC filters are clean. You might need to invest in a vacuum cleaner with a high-efficiency particulate air filter. While you’re at it, you might want to look for a portable HEPA air purifier for your bedroom.
Throw out those heavily-scented cleaning products — which can actually exacerbate allergies — and replace them with fragrance-free varieties. And while it may seem counterproductive, shampooing your carpets might make things worse, by encouraging mold growth.
Don’t stop until you find medicine that works
Many consider antihistamines wonder drugs when it comes to combating pollen-based allergies. According to the Harvard Medical School, antihistamines “block histamine, an amino acid that makes blood vessels leaky and causes the allergy sufferer's runny nose and watery eyes.”
While some older antihistamines such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl) and chlorpheniramine (Chlor-Trimeton) can cause grogginess and drowsiness, newer medications such as cetirizine (Zyrtec), desloratadine (Clarinex), fexofenadine (Allegra) and loratadine (Claritin) are less likely to result in suffers falling asleep during dinner. Talk to a doctor about which one might be the best fit for your symptoms.
Try using a combination of medicines
Antihistamines not the answer? For those with a perpetually blocked and stuffy nose, decongestants might be helpful. These drugs work by reducing the swelling of the blood vessels in the nose, and opening up the airways. Decongestants are available as nasal sprays, tablets or capsules, and as liquids. Some allergy sufferers find relief by using medications that contain both an antihistamine and a decongestant; talk to a doctor before starting any new medication regimen or combining medications to see what works best for you.
See if allergy shots are right for you
For some allergy sufferers, doctors may recommend allergen immunotherapy, commonly known as allergy shots. Though it may seem counterintuitive, allergy shots contain small amounts of the substance to which the patient is allergic, and are administered to the patient at regular intervals.
According to the Mayo Clinic, these shots contain “just enough allergens to stimulate your immune system — but not enough to cause a full-blown allergic reaction.”
Initial doses contain a minute amount of the allergen. Gradually, the amount of allergen in the shots increases. This “desensitizes” your body to the allergen, enabling your immune system to build up a tolerance to the pollen, or whatever causes your misery.
If your allergies are making you miserable and causing you to miss out on the great outdoors, talk to a doctor about what might be a good solution for you.
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