If you fall into the population that suffers from seasonal allergies – it includes more than 50 million Americans – you’ve probably been sneezing and wheezing, or maybe you’re skin has even broken out in a rash.
Seasonal allergies may only be, well, seasonal, but Mark Deutsch MD, an ear, nose and throat specialist at Group Health, says you shouldn’t have to suffer.
3 Ways to Minimize Allergy Symptoms
#1: Avoid Triggers
Typically, elements like pollinating trees, mold and summer grasses or weeds are the main culprits for seasonal allergies.
The key to managing symptoms is avoidance, which means staying away from whatever it is that triggers your allergies. However, you shouldn’t be avoiding your favorite activities. “I tell patients we want to help control their symptoms, rather than have their allergies control them,” Dr. Deutsch explains.
#2: Take Antihistamines
Additionally, you can manage symptoms by taking antihistamines (over-the-counter or by prescription) that come in the forms of pills, eye drops and nasal sprays. Depending on your symptoms, you can take antihistamines:
- Daily, to help keep symptoms under control (your doctor may advise taking them before allergy season begins)
- Only when you are symptomatic
- Before being exposed to allergens
#3: Take Action After Exposure
After being outdoors for an extended period of time, it’s smart to shower right away. If that’s not an option, Dr. Deutsch suggests trying a nasal spray. “Use nasal saline spray to try to diminish the allergies that are stuck on your mucous membranes so you can diminish the load of the allergens that you’ve just be exposed to,” he explains. “If you can pre-medicate with an antihistamine, that’s helpful as well.”
When Should I have Allergy Testing?
If you can’t avoid the allergen and medications aren’t controlling your symptoms, Dr. Deutsch recommends allergy testing to find out whether the symptoms are an actual allergy or they are caused by other problems.
"We do intradermal skin endpoint titration. This type of testing is more precise and gives us a starting point to begin immunotherapy (allergy shots)," Dr. Deutsch explains. Intradermal skin endpoint titration is a form of intradermal testing to determine the amount of an allergen that will be tolerated in immunotherapy.
From there, you will begin allergy shot treatment. Through allergy shots, you are administered small doses of the allergen to help your body develop immunity to whatever you’re allergic to.