Dealing with Seasonal Allergies
Runny nose, congestion, itchy red eyes, sneezing - yep, it’s allergy season again, and while seasonal allergies may seem like no big deal to some, for sufferers, allergy symptoms can severely interfere with everyday life and the enjoyment of activities, especially outdoors. For those with allergies, symptoms consist of sneezing, itchy, red, or watery eyes, sinus congestion, and sore, itchy, or scratchy throat, and may also include itchy skin, rashes, and difficulty breathing in more severe cases.
Allergies are caused by exposure to one or more allergens, most commonly dust, pollen, mold, or pet dander. Allergies are an immune disorder in which the body responds to an offending substance by releasing histamines, which, in turn, cause the dreaded sneezing, itchy, stuffy faced, miserable symptoms that are the trademark of an allergy sufferer.
Although allergies cannot easily be cured, there are several ways to find allergy symptom relief. The most common allergy solutions involve over-the-counter or prescription medication, which come in pill form, as well as nasal sprays, liquids, and eye drops. These medications work by limiting your body’s histamine response to allergens, thereby decreasing allergy symptoms. In addition to medications, there are several home allergy remedies that can provide natural allergy relief. Irrigating the nasal passages with saline solution or with the use of a neti pot, for example, or drinking peppermint tea (it helps clear sinuses and soothes irritated mucous membranes) can provide medication-free allergy relief to sufferers who prefer a more natural approach to dealing with their seasonal allergies.
Another option to help with allergies is to receive allergy shots (known as immunotherapy) on a regular basis. This consists of getting regular, small injected doses of the known allergen, in an attempt to help your body adjust to the presence of the allergen. In other words, if you’re allergic to pollen, you’d get small doses of pollen injected under your skin to help build up your immunity, and eventually (hopefully) reduce your allergy to a slightly-irritating nuisance rather than a near-debilitating issue. Depending on your body’s response, the injections will need to be repeated on a regular basis for up to 3-5 years. Prior to allergy shots, however, you will need to undergo allergen testing, which is performed in much the same way as the shots (a small amount of different allergens is placed under the skin to determine which causes a reaction).
Regardless of how you choose to deal with your seasonal allergy symptoms, practicing clean living can greatly reduce symptoms and help lessen allergies overall. Keeping carpets and upholstery clean (or doing without carpet altogether), using a dehumidifier, dusting regularly, and keeping pets bathed and well-groomed, will all help to decrease your exposure to those dreaded allergens.