We can tell you everything there is to know about allergies; but when it comes down to it, there’s only one thing about allergies you really need to know: how to treat them!
While there is still no cure for allergies (or hay fever), there are a number of ways that you can reduce or eliminate your allergy symptoms. There are three broad categories of allergy treatments that can be used individually, or in combination:
- Avoidance of the Allergen
- Allergy Shots
- Medication (with anti-histamine)
Avoidance of Allergens
This piece of advice is easier said than done, but it is important. Studies indicate that allergen avoidance is essential to effective treatment of allergies and asthma. Avoidance of airborne allergens all of the time is virtually impossible. Pollen, for example, is present anywhere you go.
You can, however, pay attention to the weather forecast – keeping in mind that dry, windy climates tend to carry more airborne allergens. You can also try to stay away from known triggers – such as your sister’s cat or dad’s dusty basement.
You may also want to consider allergy devices for your home, such as an air cleaner or air purifier. These devices will help remove pollen and mold spores from the air before you have the opportunity to breathe them in. Remember, it’s important to keep the filters on these devices clean – ineffective cleaning of air filters could actually make your allergies worse!
Allergy shots, also called “immunotherapy,” increase your tolerance to the particular allergens that provoke allergy symptoms. Allergy shots are usually are recommended for people who suffer from severe allergies, or for those who have allergy symptoms for more than 3 months each year. Again, allergy shots cannot cure allergies, but they can reduce your sensitivity to certain substances.
Immunotherapy has proven to be quite effective in reducing allergy symptoms in many sufferers, but it does require a substantial time and monetary commitment – and you’ll likely need health insurance. Allergy shots are administered in gradually increasing doses by a health care professional the upper arm.
Anti-histamines are particularly effective in treating allergies. When the immune system goes into defense mode, it releases an onslaught of histamines that serve to protect sensitive membranes and organs.
Though often effective at preventing viruses from invading the body, in high concentrations histamines can also initiate the tissue inflammation and irritation that often lead to allergy symptoms like congestion, runny nose, cough and sore throat. Antihistamines stop the production of these irritants and can help soothe inflamed tissues.