While we are all starting to enjoy the warmer weather and the blooming vegetation, there’s something that many of us don’t look forward to – Allergies.
While everyone reacts differently to allergens (allergic substances), some of the more common allergy symptoms include:
- Itchy, watery eyes
- Nasal congestion
- Nose Itchiness
- Clear Nasal discharge
- Feeling tired or ill
Chronic inflammation due to allergies can lead to obstruction of the sinus openings which can often result in recurrences of sinusitis. Identifying your allergy triggers is a very important step in both the correct treatment and avoidance of allergies.
Adding Up Your Triggers
For those who experience allergies in the spring, the first thing it’s attribute to is Pollen. While pollen is a very common allergy trigger, it may not be the only reason you’re suffering. People are usually allergic to multiple substances and being exposed to the combination of them can create an allergy ‘attack’. For instance, you may be allergic to dust mites, animal dander and molds without so much as a sniffle; but with that additional pollen in the air – you start to itch, sneeze, wheeze or get a runny nose.
While everyone’s allergy threshold or level at which they show allergy symptoms is different, when that level is reached – symptoms develop.
So how can you find out your specific triggers?
Other than knowing you’re allergic to pollen because you start sneezing in the spring, or that you’re allergic to pet dander when your eyes start to itch when your friend’s cat rubs up against your leg – Undergoing allergy testing will allow you to see exactly which allergens you’re afflicted by and how severe they are.
There are several ways to test for allergies – Blood testing, patch (scratch) testing and titration testing.
Managing Your Symptoms
Once you’ve identified your allergy triggers, you can manage your symptoms by taking medications or undergoing immunotherapy desensitization (allergy shots).
Managing your exposure can also be extremely beneficial. So again, knowing your specific allergy triggers will determine how to best avoid them.
Pollens – Pollens are tiny airborne particles given off by trees, weeds and grasses.
- During high pollen seasons keep your windows and doors closed. You can sign up for allergy alerts to monitor pollen counts at www.pollen.com.
- Mornings between 5am –10am have the highest pollen count, as well as dry windy days. After heavy rainfalls are the best time to do any outdoor activity.
- Remove dust particles from the air by using special HEPA air filters in your air conditioning or furnace.
- Take allergy medications 30 minutes before going outside.
- Minimize the allergens you introduce into your home by removing your shoes and leaving them by the door.
- Changing your clothes and showering once you come home will also help.
Molds – Molds can be both indoor and outdoor.
- Try to avoid going outside when mold levels are high.
- Piles of damp leaves and high grass usually contain mold – try to avoid these areas or shower when you come back inside.
- Maintain humidity at 40 – 50% to inhibit the growth of mold. Dehumidifiers and Air conditioners help.
- Try to cut down the humidity in the bathroom in kitchen by using an exhaust fan or opening a window.
- Clean mold on solid surface with a bleach solution.
- Identify and fix any water leaks in the home.
Dust Mites – These are microscopic creatures that generally feed off dead skin cells.
- Enclose pillow cases, mattresses and box springs in dust-proof covers.
- Wash bedding in hot water.
- Where possible – remove carpeting.
- Use air filters to remove dust from the air and dehumidifiers, as dust mites die when the humidity falls below 50 percent.
Animal Dander – A reaction is caused by a sensitivity to an animal’s skin flakes, fur and saliva
- Restrict your pet from the bedroom and if possible limit the amount of rooms it has access to.
- Wash your hands and face after petting your pet.
- Use air purifiers and vacuum pet dander.
- Bathe your pet weekly if possible.
A combination of testing to identify your allergy triggers, managing your exposure and possible immunotherapy desensitization can have a tremendous positive impact on your quality of life. Our allergy specialists are here to help evaluate and treat your allergy symptoms.