By Matt McCambridge on October 24, 2018
As allergy season approaches, up to 30% of America adults will likely experience a range of symptoms.
While it’s hard to figure out whether you’re experiencing an illness (such as an upper respiratory infection) vs. allergies, environmental allergy symptoms typically include some or all of the following:
- Watery, itchy eyes
- Generalized itchiness
- Hives and/or redness on parts of or all over the body
- Swelling around the eyes
- Sinus congestion
- Runny nose
- Facial swelling
- “Tickly” throat
- Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
- Abdominal bloating
Given that the most effective allergy treatment -- moving away to Phoenix or floating out to sea -- is a no-go for most, here are a few other treatment options to consider this Spring:
Over the counter medications (OTCs): These days, more medications to treat the symptoms of mild to moderate environmental allergens are becoming increasingly available without a prescription. If you’re not taking other medications and do not have other significant medical problems, then these OTC meds are a great place to start as they’re reasonably safe for most people and provide decent relief.
Some OTC medications to consider include:
Antihistamines: Histamines are chemicals formed by your body when it comes into contact with an allergen trigger. They cause symptoms such as a stuffy nose, runny eyes and nose, itchiness and hives. Antihistamines reduce symptoms by blocking histamines and are available in different forms such as liquids, nasal sprays or tablets. Some antihistamines are available OTC while others require a prescription from your doctor. You’ll want to avoid drowsy or “sedating” antihistamines if you need to drive or operate machinery.
Oral decongestants: When you experience allergies, the lining of your nose becomes inflamed which makes you feel “stuffy”. Decongestants ease your symptoms by narrowing the blood vessels in your face and sinuses, thereby reducing blood flow, shrinking the tissue and allowing you to breathe easier. Like antihistamines, oral decongestants are generally available OTC in pill or liquid form.
Steroid nasal sprays: Steroid nasal sprays can be effective at reducing the inflammation in your nose caused by allergies. While these have been known to be one of the most effective treatments for allergies, it can take up to several weeks before you start experiencing full relief. Nasal sprays are available OTC at your pharmacy or with a prescription from your doctor.
Eye drops: Eye drops can be used to treat the eye-related symptoms of allergies including burning, itchy, redness, swelling and tearing in the eye. The type of allergy eye drop for you depends on the cause of your allergy and your symptoms.
For those that receive minimal relief from OTCs or some of the other medication options listed above, the next step is likely to see a provider.
When it comes to seeing a provider for your allergies, you have a couple options. You can start by visiting a primary care provider, who will examine you and provide recommendations on additional medications such as oral prescriptions or steroids. Alternatively, you could visit an allergist, who would likely conduct various allergen blood tests before prescribing a regimen for desensitization. If you elect to visit an allergist, you’ll want to make sure that the specialist is in-network and covered by your insurance plan.
Based on your symptoms, there are multiple options to consider when allergy season strikes. If you’re seeking immediate relief, you can always reach out to your Eden Health clinical team on the app to discuss your symptoms, get an instant diagnosis and/or prescription, and understand potential costs. Reach out today!
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