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April 2012

Combating Allergies

Allergies As the trees and flowers begin to blossom around Houston, allergy season too begins. It’s predicted that this spring will be one of the worst seasonal allergy seasons in recent history due to the mild winter. However, there are some simple steps you can take to help keep springtime allergies under control.

  • Reduce your exposure to triggers. Try to limit time outside when pollen counts are high or if it’s a windy day. If you go outside, wear sunglasses to keep pollen out of your eyes. After being outside, wash clothes and shower, allergens stay on hair and skin.
  • Take extra steps when pollen counts are high. Check local pollen forecasts, if it calls for high pollen counts consider taking allergy medications before your symptoms start. Keep your windows closed. Try to avoid outdoor activities in the morning when the counts are the highest.
  • Keep indoor air clean. Use air conditioning in your home. Also, make sure your filters are clean and you are up-to-date on maintenance schedules. Try to clean often and use with a vacuum containing a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter.
  • Try an over-the-counter (OTC) remedy. There are several types of nonprescription allergy medications that can help ease those suffering from allergies. However, all medications should be taken according to the directions. Common OTC remedies include:
    • Oral antihistamines help relieve sneezing, itching, runny noses and watery eyes. Common types contain loratadine (Claritin), cetirizine (Zyrtec), diphenhydramine (Benadryl) or chlorpheniramine (Chlor-Trimeton).
    • Oral decongestants provide temporary relief from nasal stuffiness. Most, like Sudafed, contain pseudoephedrine.
    • Nasal sprays such as Afrin or Vicks Sinex help to decongest nasal passages, but should be used for short-term use only as long-term usage can cause an adverse effect.
    • Combination medications are also available and combine the above with each other. An example is an oral medication which combines an antihistamine with a decongestant.
  • See your doctor. For many people, avoiding allergens and taking over-the-counter medications is enough to ease symptoms, but if your seasonal allergies are still bothersome a number of other treatments are available.
    • Skin or blood testing can be done to help determine what your personal triggers are and the steps needed to help avoid those triggers and identify the best treatment plan.
    • Allergy shots (allergen immunotherapy) help desensitize you to the allergens that trigger you the most. It involves regular injections of tiny amounts of the substances that cause your allergies to help reduce the immune system reaction that causes symptoms.

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Combating Allergies
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