Straight, No Chaser: Treating Your Seasonal Allergies / Hay Fever
You’re miserable from seasonal allergies (aka hay fever, allergic rhinitis)? You’ve seemingly tried everything, and nothing seems to help? Let’s do a Straight, No Chaser look at your treatment options.
I want to start with a very simple point that’s more important that everything else that will follow.
People who have allergies will have allergic attacks.
Understand that. Accept that. Now let’s deal with it.
The goal in addressing seasonal allergies is prevention. The way your body works is simple. If you are exposed to a pollen or other substance the body interprets as a potential danger (an allergen), it will generate a defense to fight it. The suffering you sometimes feel is the byproduct of that fight. Furthermore, when you are subsequently exposed to the allergen, you will generate a stronger response, as your immune system is now primed for the fight.
All of this means that avoidance of these “triggers” is the key to your wellbeing. Everything else is compensation after the fact, which, in some cases, work counter to what the body may actually need at a certain point in time. Start by focusing on identifying your triggers and practicing avoidance.
- During pollen season, stay indoors on especially hot, dry and windy days.
- Don’t be afraid to wear a mask.
There are many treatment options. Besides avoidance, strategies involve treating symptoms and reducing the immune response.
- For many, a nasal wash sufficiently eliminates mucus from the nose.
- Antihistamines are a good place to start, and there are over the counter options. Be mindful of whether or not the one you’re selecting makes you drowsy. If so, act accordingly. (E.g., don’t operate heavy machinery while taking them.)
- Nasal steroid sprays (corticosteroids) are the most effective treatment for allergic reaction, but may not be as effective if you’re not taking them continuously. Steroids are anti-inflammatory agents; that’s how they combat allergic rhinitis, which is an inflammation of the nose.
- Many people reach for decongestants first because the nasal stuffiness is so annoying, but be advised: You should not take these for more than three days at a time. If the need persists, you should obtain medical attention.
Reducing the Immune Response
- A class of medicines called leukotriene inhibitors block the substances released by your immune system. These substances are problematic because they also produce symptoms.
- If symptoms either get incapacitating or you can’t avoid your triggers, you may be a candidate for immunotherapy (aka allergy shots). This involves desensitization to the pollen by receiving incrementally stronger exposure until your body can adapt to the exposure.
The point of it all is you should focus on prevention by avoidance and work with your physician to address symptoms and your body’s response to them.
Feel free to contact your SMA expert consultant with any questions you have on this topic.
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