Flowers are blooming, grass is growing and allergy season is here. Are you someone who suffers from seasonal allergies, also known as hay fever? These bothersome symptoms may include sneezing, congestion, itchy dry eyes and runny nose.
“When suffering from allergies, it’s hard not to feel miserable, but there is relief in sight,” said Sarah de Forest, MD, a Samaritan family medicine physician in Corvallis.
Dr. de Forest offers the following helpful tips to manage your symptoms through the height of allergy season.
Work with your provider to find a prescription or over‑the‑counter allergy medicine that works for you. Allergies can be treated with a variety of medicines. Antihistamines, decongestants and corticosteroid nasal sprays are some options. Some medications are for acute symptoms and should be used when you’re having a reaction. Others are more preventive and are taken before a reaction occurs.
Use a nasal rinse to help clear your sinuses. Nasal rinses use a saline solution to help flush out mucus and allergens from your nose. It’s a quick, effective and inexpensive way to relieve nasal congestion.
Keep an eye on your local pollen levels. Download a pollen tracking app or look at the news for the pollen forecast. When pollen counts are expected to be high, take allergy medicine and avoid outdoor activities, especially in the early morning. If you must go outdoors, wearing a surgical or N95 mask can help minimize allergy symptoms.
Have the air in your house as allergen-free as possible. This means using an air conditioner, if available, instead of opening windows. Try to keep the air dry by using a dehumidifier. Even a portable high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter can help, especially in your bedroom.
Talk with your provider about allergy testing and allergy shots. If your symptoms fail to respond to conventional treatment, allergy testing is a good next step. These skin or blood tests help find which allergens trigger your symptoms. Allergy shots could be another option. These are a series of injections containing small amounts of the substances that cause your allergic reaction. Over time these shots can help reduce the immune system reaction that causes allergy symptoms.
Whether your allergies are mild or severe, help is out there, so don’t suffer in silence! Ask your health care provider about treatment options at your next visit.