Ahhh … Allergies!
Today’s advice on how to get relief
The surest signs of spring: trees blooming, grass greening, birds chirping, you … not breathing. When you suffer from allergies, even enjoying the simplest of life’s pleasures can cause major discomfort.
Rather than stay indoors and cocoon, find ways to live, really live with your allergies.
Know the essentials
The list of allergy triggers is long. Common ones include pollen, mold, dust mites, pet dander, food, insect stings and medications. While you might avoid eating peanut butter or ban cats from your home, certain allergens can be impossible to eliminate from your daily life.
Symptoms can be as mild as a stuffy nose or itchy eyes or as severe as throat or nasal swelling and labored breathing. For people with underlying conditions, such as asthma, exposure to some allergens can be especially serious. In addition to using allergy-specific filters in your home’s heating and cooling sources and keeping a clean house, while taking medications to help relieve symptoms, there are other ways to help you live better with allergies.
Breathe Better Tip
- Use the ‘re-circulating air’ option on your car’s air conditioning. (It’s the button with the U-turn arrow.) This prevents outside air from entering your vehicle.
- If mold is on your list of allergens, ditch the indoor plants. Wet dirt is a breeding ground for mold.
- Stuffed animals can be a virtual playground for dust mites. Best way to keep Teddy from making Junior sick? Let Ted spend 24 hours in the freezer to kill the mites, followed by a spin in the dryer to shake those dead guys out.
- Hardwood floors and other hard surfaces are better options than carpet and rugs for those living with dust allergies.
Determine the cause
Unless you’ve undergone allergy testing, you might not know the exact cause of your symptoms. Allergy testing can be done by an allergist or ENT. Skin tests usually take about an hour to complete, and you’ll need to stop taking some allergy medications prior to testing. If you’re particularly sensitive (or having a child tested) ask about using a topical numbing agent to ease discomfort.
Blood tests, the radioallergosorbent test (RAST) and the enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) test, can be given but are more expensive and possibly less reliable than skin testing.
Treat the source
For people who experience allergy symptoms for more than three months out of the year, a doctor can determine the best options for treatment. Allergy shots are administered to increase tolerance to allergens that provoke symptoms. Shots are given regularly in gradually increasing dosages until a maintenance level is achieved. Allergy symptoms then decrease or may disappear entirely.
Today you also have the option of treating allergies with painless, virtually tasteless drops. Convenient (since you can do them at home, without a doctor’s supervision,), safe and long-used in Europe, you can now find local doctors who offer this treatment. Great for kids and for anyone who would rather skip the regular injections, sublingual (under the tongue) immunotherapy (SLIT) employs an allergy serum administered regularly for an extended period of time (typically nine months to three years) until the patient is allergy-free. Depending on the number of allergy triggers, relief from symptoms comes as early as a few weeks after therapy begins.
Unlike allergy medications that relieve symptoms, immunotherapy targets the underlying immune system’s cause of allergies. Treating allergies with immunotherapy has also been proven to lessen the probability of contracting asthma later.
If you or someone you love suffers from allergy symptoms, see a healthcare professional and ask about options for living and enjoying life—every day of the year, indoors and out.
Attention Allergy Shoppers!
For products that can help with household allergens, NationalAllergy.com has just about everything you could think of—other than a bubble to surround you! For airborne allergens, you’ll find high efficiency air purifiers and furnace filters. Allergic to dust mites (or want to stop bed bugs before they happen)? Encase your pillows and mattresses with luxury made-in-America protectors to help you sleep easier. Cleaning products, from vacuums to pet care shampoos, are also available. You’ll even find gentle skin care lines for sensitive skin. Call 1-800-522-1448 for a catalog or shop online.