Allergies Pollen Allergy Relief

Trees, weeds and grasses release countless microscopic pollen grains into the air every season. The protein within each grain causes an allergic reaction in over 40 million Americans. When the immune system detects the presence of pollen in the nose or throat, it triggers the production of histamines. Histamines cause hay fever symptoms, such as:

  • achiness
  • allergic shiners (dark circles under the eyes caused be an increased blood flow near the sinuses)
  • congestion
  • fatigue
  • itching
  • mucous drainage
  • sneezing.

These symptoms resemble the flu or a common cold. Fortunately, these painful side effects can be combated and reduced through the use of good personal hygiene, a clean home, over-the-counter antihistamines and allergy shots.

A person is more susceptible to developing allergy symptoms when the body’s immune system is weak, such as after an infection or during pregnancy. Children are likely to inherit develop allergies if either of their parents have allergies.

Drug-Free Treatments

Eating a balanced diet, exercising regularly, and getting sufficient sleep will help combat intense allergy symptoms. Additionally, a nasal rinse is a scientifically-proven method for removing pollen from the nasal passages. To perform a nasal rinse, look at the ceiling and pour warm, salt water into one nostril. Then lower your head, and let it rinse out through the other nostril. This can be repeated several times and it very effective after being exposed to allergens.

At home, vacuum twice a week and wash sheets and towels in hot water weekly. Replace air conditioning filters and keep windows closed. These actions limit pollen and dust from spreading. Also, experts recommend that allergy sufferers invest in an air purifier for severe pollen allergies. HEPA compatible filters remove most of the pollen from the air in a home or office.

Over-The-Counter Medications

Many effective over-the-counter medications are available for reducing allergy symptoms. Local drugstores offer antihistamines such as Claritin or Zyrtec. Benadryl is also helpful, but should be used at night, as it usually causes drowsiness. Mucinex relieves congestion. Lozenges and hot tea can soothe a sore throat.

Antihistamine medications are most effective when taken before being exposed to allergens, so take one every morning during allergy season if necessary. Nasal sprays relieve a stuffy nose, but should not be used for more than three consecutive days, as they can cause dependency. If these medicines are not effective, a physician can prescribe antihistamines, corticosteroids, and/or cromolyn sodium to be used individually or in combination.

Allergy Tests

Skin tests and blood tests are available through a doctor or board-certified allergist. Skin testing is the preferred method of allergy testing, because it is less expensive than blood testing and provides results in 15 minutes as opposed to a few weeks. During skin testing, potential allergens are placed on the skin, such as:

  • foods
  • molds
  • pet dander
  • pollens.

The skin is then scratched or punctured to allow the allergen to react with the individual’s body. After 15 minutes, a positive skin test will produce a raised, red bump. A saline substance is used as a negative control, to ensure that the person is not reacting to the prick of a needle.

Allergy Shots

Immunotherapy, or allergy shots, allows the body to build resistance to specific allergens when they knows exactly which allergens bother them. The exact allergen is given to the patient, building patient immunity to that irritant. The treatment takes a few months to years, and may be necessary throughout a lifetime. It is very beneficial to people who suffer severe allergic reactions to specific allergens.

Resources

Davis, J.L. (2008). Mold and allergies: 10 ways to reduce symptoms. Retrieved March 18, 2009, from WebMD Web site http://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/features/mold-allergies-reduce-symptoms?page=2.

Doheny, Kathleen (2009). Your pollen survival guide. Retrieved March 18, 2009, from the WebMD Web site http://www.webmd.com/allergies/relief-for-allergies-8/pollen-survival-guide?page=3.