Do you choose to be miserable with allergies this time of year?
Ahh… Texas in the springtime, where cerulean waves of bluebonnets threaten to splash onto the highways and Indian Blankets burn a path of crimson in their wake. Go ahead and enjoy the brilliant blooms—they’re not the reason you can’t take a deep breath or why you sound as though you’re talking in a tunnel.
Blame your seasonal allergies on tree pollen, for the most part, which is why your symptoms probably started well before the wildflowers bloomed. And you might also be allergic to year-round triggers such as mold, dander, and dust mites.
Unless you savor the attention you receive as an allergy sufferer—the offers of tissues from strangers, the way people step out of your path as you work up a three-alarm sneeze, how your spouse comments on the super attractive way you mouth-breathe for weeks on end—keep reading.
Find an allergist
An allergist is specially trained to help you fight the effects of seasonal allergies. Submitting to an allergy test is the best way to determine what triggers your allergic reactions. From there, your doctor will prescribe a regime of immunotherapies such as injections or drops along with recommending over-the-counter meds such as antihistamines to relieve your misery.
Allergy shots work to control your symptoms as they contain trace amounts of your unique allergens, and over time gradually build your body’s tolerance levels. Two phases are recommended—the build-up phase and maintenance phase. Once your body develops immunities, injections become less frequent until you no longer need them.
Sublingual Immunotherapy (or SLIT drops) have been widely used and embraced overseas in European, Asian, and South American countries for a no-shot alternative to allergy treatments. As with injections, a unique serum is developed based on your distinctive allergies, and that formula is then dropped under the tongue, where it’s held for a minute or two before swallowing. While the allergen extracts are FDA approved for use here, the method of administering is still pending. Therefore, you can find area allergists willing to prescribe them—since they’re safe, convenient (administered at home), and painless—but don’t count on your insurance company covering 100 percent of the cost.
How not to clean up your lifestyle
If you love being congested, then make sure you let as much outside air into your home and car as possible. Mow the lawn with reckless abandon and crawl into bed with nary a thought as to all the pesky pollen that’s perched on your skin and hair.
Other good ways to ensure the allergies never clear up! Don’t change your home’s air filters or invest in those specially designed to reduce the flow of allergens into your home. Change your sheets infrequently, leave your shoes on as you track pollen from room to room, and be sure to keep a house full of plants, with damp dirt perfect for hosting mold.
Listen to your body’s symptoms
Above all, the surest way to become a victim this allergy season is to pretend you’re not really sick at all. Don’t ignore your body’s desire for water, as drinking extra liquid can help thin the mucus in your nasal passages and provide some relief. Hot liquids—tea, soup, and broth—provide the additional benefit of a soothing steam for your sinuses. While researchers are still trying to pinpoint a direct connection between eating a healthful diet and allergies, feeding your body well is always a good practice.
Once you finally grow tired of being a sniffling, sneezing, stuffy-sinus poster child for allergies, do yourself (and your friends and family) a favor and take measures to combat your seasonal suffering. Help is just a phone call away.
By Pamela Hammonds