Usually allergic conditions like watery eyes, sneezing, headaches, itchy throat, congestion etc are the result of allergens we get exposed to during daily life activities.
Pollen allergy is also termed as hay fever. According to the statistics released by National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases approximately one out of ten Americans is affected by the pollen allergy. Certain forms of allergies can be controlled with the help of over-the-counter medicines available in the markets. But certain forms of allergies are more severe and can even adversely affect the life quality of the individual. Apart from this, if neglected, allergies can lead to worsening of asthma or trigger asthma and other medical conditions like sinusitis and ear infections.
According to Badrul Chowdhury, allergist and immunologist in the FDA symptoms of allergy and common cold can be distinguished on the following basis. Symptoms of cold are of short-time, the nasal secretion is thicker and combined with other symptoms like hoarseness, sore throat, fever and malaise. Some people have seasonal pattern of allergic rhinitis. But others with same symptoms would require help of health care provider to get relief from their allergies.
If you experience these allergy symptoms throughout the year it may be due to the allergens like animal dander, dust mites or other particles. Such a condition is called as perennial allergic rhinitis.
If your allergy symptoms do not respond to the over-the-counter medicines you must consult a qualified health care provider. Your doctor may recommend an allergy test (usually a skin test) after conducting physical examination and studying symptoms. The skin test is helpful in determining type of allergy including allergens such as grass pollen or ragweed.
Once it is confirmed that the allergy you have is seasonal in nature you must adopt preventive measures to avoid pollen. You should keep strict watch on the pollen levels in your surroundings with the help of data released by weather department and avoid outdoor activities when the pollen levers are at peak. Pollen counts are decided on the basis of pollen appearance calculated on the basis of air collected 24 hour period and expressed in grains of pollen per square meter. During spring and summer pollen levels are at peak during dusk periods. If you are one of the misfortunate allergy sufferers you must avoid mowing grass, keep windows of house and car and activate air-conditioner especially when the pollen levels are high.
Despite all the preventive measures, it may not be feasible to avoid the pollen in totality. In such cases you may have to use certain drugs for achieving relief from allergy. Following are some of the common drugs used in treating allergies.
- Nasal Corticosteroids: Corticosteroids like mometasone furoate (Nasonex) and fluticasone propionate (Flonase) are used on once or two times a day basis through inhaling or spraying into nose. Side effects like stinging sensation in the now may occur.
- Oral Anti-Histamines: These are available in both forms – over-the-counter and prescription. Antihistamines like diphenhydramine and chlorpheniramine counteract the histamine (substance produced by the body during allergic conditions) actions. Side effects of oral antihistamines include drowsiness. You must avoid operating machinery, driving etc when you are using anti-histamines. There are certain less sedating antihistamines like desloratadine, loratadine, centrizine etc. You may try one of these drugs to decrease possibility of side effects.
- Decongestants: These are also available in both forms – over-the-counter and by prescription. Decongestants are available in oral as well as nasal spray form. At times decongestants are used in combination with antihistamines. One of the common decongestants is pseudoephedrine and fexofenadine (allegro D). Use of decongestants (specifically nasal sprays) for longer periods can lead to worsening of nasal congestion.
- Non=steroidal Nasal Sprays: Nasal sprays like cromolyn sodium (NasalCrom) are helpful in prevention of rhinitis allergic symptoms. However, you must use this nasal spray before onset on allergic symptoms. Usually non-steroidal nasal sprays are required to be used more frequently like thrice or more times in a day.
In all cases you must consult your health care provider before using any drugs or sprays for treating you’re allergies especially when you have any other medical conditions.
Allergy shots (immunotherapy) are another option for treating allergies (rhinitis). Normally individuals who do not respond to other methods of allergy treatments are suggested to go for allergy shots. Immunotherapy treatment is a process in which lesser amounts of allergens (those responsible for occurrence symptoms) are injected. It is a lengthy procedure as allergy shots are to be administered for longer periods – from three years to five years. As the body builds up immunity the doses are increased gradually. Once minimal symptoms are noticed the dose is discontinued.