Spring Has Sprung
Spring is upon us! If you’re like me, the warmer weather also means it's allergy season. While I can’t offer a cure for allergies, there are some things you can do to better enjoy the season.
Determine the Cause
Most spring allergies are caused by pollen, released by trees, grass, and weeds. While pollen is supposed to be a harmless way for plants to reproduce, many people’s bodies react to pollen as an attack. Our immune system produces histamines to defend against this intruder, leading to symptoms of itchy eyes, runny nose, and sinus congestion.
Breathe Freely Again
If allergies are new to you, you should start by seeing your regular physician. Depending on the severity and duration of your symptoms, your doctor may opt to run allergy tests to determine the exact trigger of your symptoms. Based on the results, your treatment options may include avoiding allergens, taking medication, or immunotherapy.
When it comes to allergy medications, there are no shortage of options. Most people are familiar with the common over-the-counter antihistamines which are widely advertised, such as Benedryl, Claritin, Zyrtec, and Allegra. Some of these medications may cause side effects of drowsiness, while newer formulations act more specifically on your immune system and have fewer side effects. Decongestants are also helpful at the onset of allergy symptoms, but are not well suited for long-term use.
Recently, steroid nasal sprays have been approved for over-the-counter use. These work to reduce inflammation and quickly control your symptoms. Even though you do not need a prescription to use these sprays, it is best to talk to your doctor before starting a steroid medication.
For ocular allergies, there are also many treatment options available. Over-the-counter eye drops that contain ketotifen are a good place to start. Avoid drops that contain phenylephrine since these can have side effects of increased redness and dilation if used too often. If your symptoms aren’t improving, it’s time for an eye exam. You may need a prescription medication or treatment for a concurrent condition, such as dry eyes. Don’t hesitate to give us a call for help treating your symptoms of itching, burning, redness, and dryness!