Warmer weather. Green grass. Leaves on the trees and flowers in bloom.
Spring is a beautiful thing — except when you’re dealing with seasonal allergies. The grass, trees, and flowers also signal the return of pollen and a season of sneezing, coughing, and stuffy noses. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that more than 50 million Americans suffer from allergies each year.
Pollen is nearly impossible to avoid altogether. If you suffer from seasonal allergies, it’s important to come up with a plan to stay as healthy as possible, so you can enjoy this beautiful time of year.
Start with Over-the-Counter Medicines
With so many Americans suffering from seasonal allergies, it’s no surprise that there are countless options for over-the-counter medications that can help prevent and treat your allergic reactions.
- Oral Antihistamines — These help relieve sneezing, itchy eyes, and runny noses. Antihistamines are typically available in pills, liquids or nasal sprays.
- Decongestants — These help relieve congestion by treating the linings of the nasal passages. Decongestants may come in the form of pills, liquids and nasal sprays or drops.
- Nasal Spray — A cromolyn sodium nasal spray is most effective when used as a preventative measure before the onset of symptoms.
Your Primary Care Physician Can Help
When your seasonal allergy symptoms are severe and the usual medicines aren’t providing the relief you need, your next step should be scheduling an appointment with a primary care physician.
Your doctor can prescribe allergy medication that isn’t available over the counter. They can also recommend tests to help diagnose your specific type of allergy, so you know that you’re taking the right steps to stay as healthy as possible.
- Skin Prick Test — A small drop of an allergen will be placed on your skin and then you’ll receive a light prick or scratch on the spot to expose you to the allergen. If you’re allergic, a small reaction may occur within minutes to help them diagnose the allergy and devise a treatment plan.
- Specific IgE Blood Test — As an alternative to the skin prick test, you can provide a blood sample. The laboratory will add an allergen to the sample and then study the antibodies that the blood produces in response.
Be Smart and Enjoy the Season
Armed with knowledge, medication and the support of your physician — like the team at UM Charles Regional Primary Care — you don’t have to miss out on all the best parts of spring.
You may never be able to completely avoid pollen and its effects, but when you’re prepared in advance, you can enjoy more days of clear eyes and sinuses and actually be excited about the warm weather, the sunshine and, yes, even the beautiful flowers.