Attacking Your Allergies
Spring is a beautiful time of year! The weather is nice, the flowers are blooming and the sneezing begins. Yes, folks, along with spring fever comes spring allergies.
We all enjoy the changing of the seasons but not all of the allergens that come along with it! Allergies can present themselves in many forms from itchy noses and watery eyes, to cold and flu like symptoms. However, with a little bit of knowledge and understanding of what allergies are, they can be managed through what is typically a beautiful season.
What is an allergy?
“Allergies can be described as abnormal responses to the immune system,” says Dr. Jeffery Howard, a board-certified family physician at SouthCrest Hospital. “It is a reaction to substances in the environment such as pollen and mold. A person can be exposed to an allergen by inhaling it, swallowing it, or contact with the skin. Once this occurs, the allergic reaction takes form.”
There are common symptoms to a seasonal allergic reaction. If allergies affect you, you may experience the following:
- Itchy, watery eyes
- Runny, itchy nose
- Hives or rashes
- The feeling of being run down or ill
“The severity of a reaction ranges from mild to severe,” Dr. Howard says.
A mild allergic reaction may be as simple as feeling a little run down or off. A medium reaction may give you the feeling of having a cold or the flu. A severe reaction can take the form of hives or rash all over the body, shortness of breath or wheezing, and tightness in the throat. This is called an anaphylactic reaction. It can be life threatening and requires immediate medical attention.
Types and Causes
There are many allergens that can trigger a reaction. The most common types of seasonal allergens are pollen, mold, and dust mites. Pollen exposure can trigger seasonal allergies. To prevent an allergic reaction to pollen, stay indoors on windy days or when pollen counts are high. A dust mite allergic reaction offers the same reaction as a pollen allergic reaction. This may occur year round instead of just seasonally. To prevent or lessen a dust mite allergic reaction, cover mattresses, pillows and box springs with dust mite covers. Also, wash the bed sheets weekly in hot water and try to keep the bedroom area as clean as possible by dusting regularly.
An allergic reaction to mold typically occurs seasonally. The mold allergen can be found in damp basements and bathrooms but also in grass, leaf piles, mulch, and hay. An allergic reaction to mold is also similar to that of pollen and dust mite reactions. Prevention of mold allergies includes avoiding certain activities such as raking leaves. Also, make sure all damp places in your home have good ventilation. If there is water damage in your home, repair it as it can be a breeding ground for mold.
Who is at risk?
Many people suffer from seasonal allergies, but why do some people react to allergens when others don’t? It comes down to heredity.
“Most likely if previous generations are allergy sufferers, then you will be, too,” Dr. Howard says. “The severity of the reaction, however, may be different than others in your family.”
Additionally, the environment you live in and how early in life you were exposed to the above-mentioned allergens also contributes to development and severity. To find out exactly what you are allergic to, testing by your physician can be done to help with treatment.
Different treatment options are available for allergy sufferers; however, there is no cure. Many medications are available over the counter as well as by prescription to help control the symptoms. If symptoms are more severe, you may be asked to take a series of injections which gradually increase tolerance to allergens. To find out what is best for you, consult with your physician. It may be as simple as taking a trip to your local drug store.
For more information regarding SouthCrest Hospital and its full menu of services, please visit https://hillcrestsouth.com/.