What Can I do About My Allergies?
By Randall Seeman, PA-C, Family Medicine Provider with Peak Vista.
Welcome to Springtime in Colorado! I like to joke with my loved ones that Colorado has 3 good seasons of weather and 1 crazy season that can consist of all 4 seasons in the same day. In general, our weather will be warmer, and we will see longer days, which will eventually lead to plant life waking from its long winter slumber.
This time of year, we see increased pollen from trees, grasses and weeds as a result of the plant life waking up. For many, the extra pollen in the air can be breathed in without any issue. However, for some who come in contact with that same pollen, their immune systems will act as if the pollen is harmful to their body. Their immune systems will react in a way to attempt to remove the pollen from the body such as through sneezing or having runny nose. These symptoms you feel are generally your body’s own response to the allergen and not the other way around. If you tend to experience these symptoms this time of year or during other transition times of the year, we call that seasonal allergies, allergic rhinitis or hay fever.
Treating Allergies with Medicine
Some of the symptoms associated with seasonal allergies include, but are not limited to, sneezing, runny nose, watery or itchy eyes, sinus pressure, sore throat or itchy throat. There are many ways to go about treating seasonal allergies. Allergy medicine helps calm down the body’s immune response. Antihistamines such as Diphenhydramine and Cetirizine can help block histamine. The histamine is a natural compound released from immune cells in our body as part of the immune response to allergens. Steroidal anti-inflammatory nasal sprays, such as fluticasone and triamcinolone, work in a similar manner; calming down the body’s immune response.
Calming Allergies without Medicine
Other approaches to dealing with seasonal allergies include daily or periodic nasal rinses with clean nasal saline. This can help remove the pollen thus helping to calm down symptoms. When indoors, it may be helpful to not open windows or use air filters which can help reduce the amount of pollen you breath in.
Know When to Call Your Doctor
If you are struggling with worsening allergies this time of year, despite all your best efforts, call your primary care provider. Your primary care medical provider may recommend a different medication or refer you to an allergy specialist for tests and treatment. Additionally, your primary care provider can help distinguish if you are dealing with allergies or some other type of issue, such as an infection. Symptoms associated with both can be very similar, if not identical.