Seasonal allergies that peak in spring and again in the fall are triggered by pollen in the air. Various pollens are released by flowering grasses, plants, and trees, and can cause problems for people who are allergic to them when inhaled into the sinuses and lungs. Some pollens may provoke more dramatic responses than others. Most allergy sufferers are allergic to specific allergens, in varying degrees. As a result, a patient’s symptoms may improve — or worsen — at certain times of the season.
Allergies occur when the body’s immune system reacts aggressively to proteins identified as foreign. While these pollen proteins are essentially harmless, they are capable of provoking thoroughly unpleasant responses. Seasonal allergy sufferers may experience symptoms ranging from sneezing, stuffy nose, and red eyes, to scratchy throat, sinus pressure, and fatigue. Also known as “hay fever,” or allergic rhinitis, seasonal allergies are no picnic.
Minimize Your Symptoms by Reducing Your Exposure
To minimize symptoms, it’s helpful to avoid exposure to problematic allergens. Microscopic pollen is the main culprit, so it makes sense to spend less time outside. This is especially true in the early morning, or when it’s windy, as pollen counts tend to be highest at these times. Here are some additional suggestions to help you minimize your exposure to pollen.
- Wear sunglasses to reduce pollen reaching your eyes.
- Some allergy sufferers may need to switch from contacts to glasses during peak pollen season.
- Shower immediately upon returning indoors — and remove (and wash) exposed clothing.
- Wash hair thoroughly when you come back inside, especially if you will be napping or sleeping.
- Avoid hanging laundry outside to dry.
- Delegate outdoor tasks such as mowing.
- Wear a pollen-filtering mask if you must work outdoors.
- Close windows and use air conditioning if necessary.
- Consider investing in a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter for your bedroom.
- Use a HEPA-filtration vacuum to keep living surfaces free of dust and dirt.
Try an Allergy Medication That Works Well for You
At PhysicianOne Urgent Care, our providers can help you find an effective allergy medication. Beginning medication(s) before the start of the spring pollen season may yield the best results.
Allergy symptoms are triggered when the immune system releases the protein histamine in response to an allergen. While histamine serves a useful purpose under certain circumstances, too much can cause many unpleasant symptoms of allergies.
Antihistamine drugs work by minimizing this response. In effect, they help “dry” your sinuses.
Examples of over-the-counter and prescription antihistamines include: loratadine (Claritin, Alavert), cetirizine (Zyrtec Allergy), fexofenadine (Allegra Allergy), and diphenhydramine (Benadryl), among others. Xyzal (levo-cetirizine) is prescribed as a non-sedating antihistamine.
Decongestant medications such as pseudoephedrine are available without a prescription, although some states limit access. While antihistamines help reduce excess nasal secretions, decongestants help drain this excess fluid, relieving pressure on sinuses.
Available primarily by prescription, various nasal sprays are available to help reduce swelling in sinus tissues. This class includes a number of steroid sprays. Examples include: beclomethasone (Beconase, Qnasl), ciclesonide (Zetonna), fluticasone proprionate (Flonase is available over-the-counter), mometasone (Nasonex), and azelastine (antihistamine nasal spray) and ipratroprium (anticholinergic nasal spray) among others. Cromolyn sodium (NasalCrom) is available as a spray that inhibits the release of histamine.
These medications combine an antihistamine and a decongestant.
When to visit PhysicianOne Urgent Care to relieve allergy symptoms
Despite our best efforts, even the healthiest among us get sick. Whether it’s troublesome seasonal allergies, or a twisted ankle, PhysicianOne Urgent Care is here seven days a week for high-quality urgent care, at a fraction of the cost of the Emergency Room. Contact us at 1.855.349.2828, or stop in today for a convenient, walk-in visit. If you’re looking to save time, find a location near you and check in online today!