Allergies are a very common problem, with approximately 20% of the population suffering from their effects. From identifying seasonal patterns to tips for avoiding symptoms to treatments, here are a few general tips to manage your allergies:
Identify Seasonal Patterns
If your allergies occur during specific seasons, then it’s most likely due to pollens or other seasonal allergens. In these situations, it helps to start taking allergy medications as soon as you start feeling symptoms and continue taking it for the next few months. If your allergies occur on most days, then it might be due to something at home, such as pets, dust, chemicals or mold. Do an environmental assessment and consider removing any potential allergens that might be contributing to your symptoms. Washing your bedding in hot water and vacuuming regularly should help with dust and dust mites.
If you have seasonal allergies, it’s best to stay indoors, close your windows, and stay in air-conditioned environments. In addition, minimize anything touching your face, as your hands and clothing may be covered in pollen as well. For further information about pollen loads in your neighborhood, you can go to www.pollen.com.
Try Simple Remedies First
For most allergies, a daily Claritin (available over-the-counter) will do the trick. Take the medication on a daily basis until your symptoms stabilize and continue taking the medication until you think the exposure load is much lower. In addition, you can try doing some nasal saline rinses to help reduce the pollen load in your nasal passages.
Other Treatments to Consider
If you’ve tried Claritin and other home remedies without relief, then you may want to consider a prescription nasal steroid (like Nasonex) or another antihistamine. The nasal steroid works for 90% of people and has the fewest side-effects. To ask for Nasonex or something similar, email your provider to ask if it is right for you.
If you’d like to try a prescription antihistamine or steroid for your allergies, it’s best to schedule a visit. Your provider can then explain how to use it (and it can take a week to feel improvement). Note that most health plans put significant restrictions on what we can prescribe for you, and we will need a more detailed history from you to complete the authorization forms.