Tips on how to avoid allergens, alleviate symptoms
Spring is just around the corner and so are the allergens it brings. If you have the following symptoms persistently, you may have seasonal allergies: sneezing, nasal congestion, runny nose, itchy nose or eyes and watery eyes. Sanford Family Prac...
Spring is just around the corner and so are the allergens it brings. If you have the following symptoms persistently, you may have seasonal allergies: sneezing, nasal congestion, runny nose, itchy nose or eyes and watery eyes.
Sanford Family Practice Nurse Practitioner Megan Gietzen said the best way to lessen allergy symptoms is to avoid the allergen, when possible.
The Mayo Clinic suggests ways of avoiding allergens or lessening your exposure to them, including keeping your windows closed during days in which the pollen count is high, avoiding the outdoors on dry, windy days and wearing a pollen mask when doing outside chores.
When avoiding allergens is inevitable, there are steps you can take to alleviate symptoms, such as taking an antihistamine.
"Other than just basic medications, they can do nasal rinses over the counter (with) a neti pot. That will just help clear out the sinuses," she said. "Using a humidifier in their bedroom ... sometimes with allergies, they're going to dry up and become congested, and that humidifier helps let things loose."
Asthma can be exacerbated by allergens as well.
"In order to avoid an exacerbation when you have asthma, again you want to avoid those triggers. A lot of the time, asthma is exacerbated by those (allergens). ... Make sure that you're keeping up with your inhalers as prescribed by your doctor. You can take that rescue inhaler before you go outside so it doesn't become an issue," Gietzen said.
If you do experience an exacerbation of asthma due to allergens, she said it's "nothing to mess around with," and to see your doctor.
What causes allergy symptoms?
"If you're around tree pollen or you're around flowers ... your body assumes that's an invader, so it's going to put out antibodies to help bind to that allergen," Gietzen said. "What happens is that antibody then starts releasing its chemicals, and that's what causes the nasal congestion, the runny nose, the itchy eyes and skin reactions. So what happens by taking any of those antihistamines is it stops that reaction in its path, so then those symptoms will be reduced."
Asthma exacerbation symptoms are caused by the same response.
"With those allergy reactions, it's still going to develop those same side effects-the nasal congestion, the runny nose, the itchy skin-and then they also get shortness of breath and difficulty breathing, so that allergy response heads into their lungs and that's when that allergy response occurs," she said.