Orange County Allergies Prevention and Treatment Options
Allergies affect one out of every five Americans. They occur year long in all types of climates and can be triggered by allergens such as pollen, mold spores, dust mites, food, animal dander, chemicals, medications and other environmental irritants.
With numerous possible causes, finding the source of your allergic response is crucial in treating the symptoms. There are three types of allergy treatments available.
The least invasive treatment method for allergies is avoiding the triggers responsible for your symptoms. Once it is determined what you are allergic to, you can take preventive measures to minimize your contact with the allergen. For example, if you are allergic to dust, you should remove all clutter to help limit your dust mite exposure. Other suggestions might include:
· Bathe pets once a week and keep them out of your bedroom and off the furniture.
· Encase your mattress and pillows in dust mite proof cases. Wash all your bedding in hot water every other week.
· Wash or replace moldy shower curtains and bathmats.
· Keep potted plants out of the house.
· Don’t allow smoking inside your home.
· Keep doors and windows closed, especially on windy days and during pollen season.
· Stay indoors as much as possible when pollen counts are high.
· Nasal irrigation – rinsing the nasal passages with a saltwater solution.
Allergy symptoms can be relieved through over-the-counter or prescription medications and nasal sprays. Medicinal therapy provides short term relief and may be a solution for people with seasonal allergies or those with non-severe symptoms.
Can Antihistamines Help Allergies?
Antihistamines are one of the go to drugs for treating allergy symptoms. They work by reducing or blocking histamines, chemicals produced by the immune system that are responsible for many common allergy symptoms, including runny, stuffy nose and itchy, watery eyes.
Some of the more popular over the counter (OTC) antihistamines include:
How Do Decongestants Help Allergies?
When your allergy symptoms include a stuffed up nose, you’re better off using a decongestant for relief. Decongestants shrink swollen blood vessels and tissues that line the nose. These however are NOT recommended for long term use and need to be used at the recommendation of your doctor only for a short period. Common decongestants include:
Many antihistamines also contain a decongestant like:
Do Nasal Corticosteroids Help Allergies?
Nasal corticosteroids are nasal sprays that can help to reduce inflammation of the nasal lining associated with allergies. They can be extremely effective at relieving symptoms, but may cause nosebleeds, nasal dryness and sore throat. Common over the counter brands include:
Immunotherapy is a method of building up tolerance to allergens by introducing it to the body in small doses over time. It is usually given as allergy shots (injections) but may be taken sublingually (under the tongue), if appropriate.
The most common form of immunotherapy are allergy shots. They can be used as a long term treatment, usually lasting several years on average.
Allergy shots work by getting your body used to the allergen, with the hope that you will eventually develop an immunity or tolerance to the allergen. The process takes place in two phases, the build up phase and the maintenance phase. The build up phase involves a small amount of the allergen being injected into the upper arm once or twice a week for a few months. The dosage is gradually increased at each visit.
Once you have reached the effective dose, the maintenance phase will begin. The maintenance phase usually involves an allergy shot once every month for three to five years.
Do Allergy Shots Have Any Risks?
There are some possible risks with allergy shots since they do contain a substance you are allergic to. Redness and swelling at the injection are the most common, but usually are quick to clear up. Sneezing, nasal congestion, and hives may develop, as well as more severe reactions such as chest tightness or wheezing.
What to Expect from Allergy Shots
It is important to remember that allergy symptoms will not improve overnight. They will typically improve over the first year of treatment and continue to improve over the next few years. The shots may even decrease symptoms for other allergens and prevent new allergies from developing.
Allergy drops (also known as sublingual immunotherapy, or SLIT), works similarly as allergy shots, however the treatment is delivered as a liquid placed underneath the tongue. This can be a great option for patients who have fear of needles.
Do Allergy Drops Work?
Like allergy shots, drops are customized according to the allergens a patient is allergic to. Patients generally self-administer once daily by placing the drops under the tongue for two minutes before swallowing.
Do Allergy Drops Have Any Risks?
As with all medical treatments, there are possible side effects and risks. It should be noted that these are generally mild, ranging from intestinal discomfort to itching in the mouth. Your physician will discuss in more detail any possible side effects.
Call Dr. Tyler Basen today at (949)755-6414 for more information or to schedule an appointment.