Handle your seasonal allergies—don’t let them handle you.
Does your body completely overreact with sneezing, a runny nose, itchy eyes and more when things begin to bloom, or when ragweed is in season, or when everyone (including the animals) hunkers down inside? Congratulations—you’ve got seasonal allergies. When it comes to dealing with them, don’t fall for these common misconceptions.
Myth 1: Allergies aren’t genetic.
Incorrect! While your environment provides the higher pollen levels that make you feel awful, your genes play a role as well. If your mother or father is prone to fits of sneezing and watery eyes every spring, chances are you might be, too.
Myth 2: Pollen is the only cause of spiking allergy symptoms.
Not so! While pollen is the main culprit, mold allergies tend to worsen when the weather is rainy or humid. If you are allergic to pet dander, you may find that your symptoms worsen when you are indoors more with them. (All warm-blooded pets produce dead skin cells known as pet dander. Allergies to pets are caused when a person has a reaction to the dead skin cells or the proteins found in the pet’s saliva, skin cells or urine — not usually the actual animal.)
Myth 3: To get relief, medicine is your only hope.
Not true! Fortunately, you can make behavioral changes in order to reduce your exposure to the allergens that set off your body’s immune response. Keep an eye on the pollen count and avoid spending time outdoors when pollen levels are reported at a “high” level. Work to keep your stress levels low to reduces your symptom severity.
Is It Time to Stop Self-Medicating?
Many over-the-counter allergy medications require two weeks to begin working fully, and sometimes they just aren’t enough. The majority of patients with seasonal allergies confirm that self-medicating with over-the-counter options doesn’t fully treat their symptoms. If you are one of them, it might be time to speak to your primary care doctor about prescription allergy treatments.
Signs you might need a stronger allergy medication include:
- You are taking your medications consistently and aren’t seeing any symptom relief.
- The relief you are seeing doesn’t improve over time.
- Your symptoms are still interfering with your daily life—causing you to lose sleep, avoid the outdoors, and feel constantly sick or fatigued.
aarp.org, familydoctor.org, acaai.org, fightthecauseofallergy.org