Spring has sprung, which means that many Americans are already dealing with seasonal allergy symptoms like sneezing, coughing and watery eyes. Nasal allergies affect nearly 50 million Americans each year, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA). Kentucky is regularly ranked as one of the worst states in the country for allergies, but with the proper prevention and treatment, symptoms can be alleviated. This spring, Saint Joseph Berea, part of KentuckyOne Health, is encouraging community members to take precautions to help curb seasonal allergies.
“While environmental allergies can be difficult to avoid, they can be managed,” said Jessica Lange, MD, KentuckyOne Health Ear, Nose and Throat Care.
A nasal allergy occurs when your body reacts to a foreign substance, or allergen, that you breathe in, causing symptoms such as coughing, sneezing, itchy eyes, a runny nose and scratchy throat. Common seasonal allergy triggers include trees, plants, grass, weeds, mold and animal dander. During the spring season, tree pollination is a major allergy trigger to many people.
To help determine what is causing your allergies, a physician may give you a skin test, where they prick the surface of your skin with an allergen or inject a small sample of diluted allergen under your skin. In both cases, this will help them determine the substance that is causing your allergy issues. A blood test may also be required.
For many people, over-the-counter and prescription medications can help relieve allergy symptoms. Antihistamines can reduce itching, sneezing and sniffling, while decongestants help relieve congestion and swelling in the nasal passageways. Your physician may prescribe you a steroid nasal spray, or recommend immunotherapy, a treatment where you are given gradually increased doses of an allergen until your body is less sensitive to the allergen.
“Immunotherapy may include allergy shots, or sublingual immunotherapy, where patients are given small drops of the allergen under their tongue,” said Dr. Lange. “If you are suffering from allergies and over-the-counter medication isn’t working, talking to your physician to see if immunotherapy may be a better option for you.”
To help avoid allergy symptoms, you can also take precautions at home, such as staying indoors on dry and windy days when allergens are typically worse. Allergy sufferers should also avoid yard work on days with high pollen counts and bathe immediately after outdoor activities.
To learn more about seasonal allergies, click here to view a video with Jessica Lange, MD, KentuckyOne Health Ear, Nose and Throat Care, as she discusses common allergens and how to find relief during the spring season.
To find a primary care provider to determine which type of treatment may be best suited to manage your symptoms, visit www.kentuckyonehealth.org/