Also known as seasonal allergies, allergic rhinitis, hay fever
Introduction: Certain environmental allergens can cause symptoms during different times of the year or when seasons change. Combined with other factors like pollution, and the cold/ flu season can cause worsening symptoms that may require people to seek medical condition.
Most common triggers include:
- Airborne particles such as animal dander, dust mites, and mold
- Insects, such as bee stings
- Pet animals
- Grass, and certain type of weeds
- Foods, such as eggs, fish, milk, peanuts, shellfish, soy, wheat, tree nuts, and fruits.
- Medicines, often penicillin and penicillin-based antibiotics.
Symptoms: In many cases, allergies can present with mild symptoms like nose itching, itchy/ watery eyes, clear nose discharge, sneezing, sore throat, or hoarse voice. These symptoms occur because of the immune system’s response to attack these allergens by producing and releasing a compound called histamine.
More severe allergic reactions that include more than one organ system are called anaphylactic reactions which are a medical emergency.
Symptoms of an anaphylactic reaction include:
- Swelling of the lips, tongue, face, or throat
- Tightness of chest
- Coughing, shortness of breath, and wheezing
- Nausea and vomiting
Please note, if you are experiencing any of the above symptoms of anaphylaxis, call 911 immediately and administer your EpiPen if you have one.
Testing: For most environmental allergens with mild symptoms, allergy testing is not required. However, if there is a concern for certain food allergies, or if you would like to know specifically what are your triggers then a simple skin allergy test can identify your particular allergy triggers.
Treatment: The first step to tackling your allergies is prevention. Avoiding your known triggers is critical especially if it is a particular food, medicine, or animal or if you have had a previous anaphylactic reaction. However, for common seasonal allergies, it is not possible to avoid the environment especially when the pollen count may high during certain seasons. During these seasons it may be important to use over-the-counter antihistamine medications. Three such medications on the market are Zyrtec (generic name cetirizine), Allegra (generic name fexofenadine), and Claritin (generic name loratadine). In addition to this, you may require an intranasal steroid spray. Two such medications available over-the-counter are Flonase (generic name fluticasone), and Nasocort (generic name budesonide). Another useful remedy to use is saline nasal rinse and spray to clear out your sinuses and preventing those allergens from attaching to your nasal passages and causing the immune reaction.
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