Coping with seasonal allergies

embedIt is at this time of year that people are either basking in the warm sunshine and enjoying the hotter weather, or, feeling fatigued, with streaming eyes and blocked noses. For everyone who suffers from a summer seasonal allergy, the next few months can prove to be most difficult, as sufferers have to cope, not only with outdoor triggers, such as tree and flower pollen, but also poor air quality alongside increased humidity.

What sufferers of seasonal allergies might not be aware of however, is that the symptoms can be managed, once you have diagnosed exactly what their specific allergy triggers are. The first step towards understanding and treating your allergies is to create a complete ‘profile’ to determine the extent of one’s allergic triggers, and once this have been achieved, the right medication can then be prescribed.

Patients can spend a lot of money during the summer months, on products that are either unnecessary, or will not work efficiently, because the wrong allergen or even the wrong symptom has been targeted. The best way to find out what specifically triggers off your symptoms is to ask your doctor for a simple allergy test, which can be done with a blood sample or by pricking the skin.

And allergens do not only respond to medication, as the sufferer can take simple steps to either avoid, or eliminate their exposure to potential triggers. For example, if you are allergic to tree or grass pollen, then you should avoid being outside between the hours of 5 a.m. and 10 a.m. and again at dusk, as these are the times of day when pollen levels are at their highest. If you do have to travel outdoors during these times then wear a face mask specifically designed to filter out pollens. Once you get home, rinse out your nose with a weak saline solution to remove pollen. Dry, windy days are when the pollen is at its highest, and the increased humidity can also make levels rise, as this contributes to the growth of certain molds. Times to venture out are after a rainfall as this clears the air, midday or later at night.

As for medication, once you have determined your potential allergic triggers, you can begin to use the correct medication. Here are a list of the types of allergy medication that is available.

Antihistamines

Whatever your allergic trigger is, be it animal fur, pollen, dust etc, when your body comes into contact with it, chemicals called histamines are produced, which cause your eyes to run and itch, your nose to swell and become blocked. Antihistamines reduce or block histamines and work well to relieve symptoms of many different types of allergies, including indoors and outdoors, as well as food allergies. Antihistamines relieve the symptoms of itching, runny eyes and skin rashes, but they cannot relieve every symptom however, so for those suffering from nasal congestion you may need a decongestant.

Decongestants

If your allergy gives you a blocked nose, then choose a decongestant. Allergies make the lining inside your nose swell, making it difficult to breathe, and a decongestant works to shrink the swollen blood vessels and tissues, which relieves the congestion. You can get decongestants in the form of pills, liquids, nose drops, and nasal sprays. A decongestant won’t relieve the symptoms of sneezing or itching however, this is where an antihistamine would be more beneficial.

Eyedrops

Eye allergy symptoms can include a burning sensation, itchy eyes, bloodshot eyes and swelling. There are several different types of eye drops that are specific to these symptoms, for instance, eye drops designed to relieve bloodshot eyes will not work to stop the itching. It is important therefore to select the correct eye drop for your symptoms. Different types include antihistamine drops, anti-inflammatory drops and drops to relieve congested eyes.

For more advice regarding seasonal allergies, check out our further reading below.