Breathe a Little Easier: Managing Your Allergy Symptoms
There's no need to suffer from allergies, according to Kristi Monson, MD, of St. Luke's Allergy and Immunology Associates. "A lot of people think there's nothing they can do, and just live with the symptoms. But you don't have to suffer. There's a lot we can do," says Dr. Monson.
Allergies have different causes, depending on the season. "In the winter, dust mites and animal dander cause symptoms," says Dr. Monson. "In warmer weather, it's caused by pollen and molds." In early spring, trees are the culprit because they're the first to pollinate, so you may experience allergy symptoms even if it's still cold outside. "You'll see an increase in allergy symptoms in the spring," she says, "and they'll last until the first freeze in the fall."
There are two ways to treat allergy symptoms: self-care or medical treatments. If you don't find relief from symptoms and they affect your quality of life, it's time to see an allergist. "When people come to see me, we talk about their symptoms and then do an allergy test, which takes about 20 minutes," says Dr. Monson. "We can get the results right away and then come up with a game plan." Before you go to the doctor, take the Allergy Relief Self-Test on the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology website. It can help you record your symptoms, offer an Allergy Relief Plan, and lets you print out the plan so you can take it to the doctor when you visit.
Self-Care for Allergy Relief
Keep windows closed, especially at night
Over-the-counter medications (such as antihistimines)
Use air conditioning or an air purifier
Prescription nasal sprays or eye drops (see your doctor)
Don't hang clothes or linens outside to dry
Allergy shots (see your allergist)
Keep animals out of the bedroom
Use allergy-proof bedding
Wash bedding in hot water to kill the allergens
Keep up with good dusting and vacuuming around the house