The beginning of summer means warm weather, more daylight, swimming pools and sneezing. With summer in full swing, allergy sufferers all over the country are feeling the effects of allergy season. Allergies occur when your immune system reacts to a foreign substance such as pollen, pet dander or a synthetic chemical. Everyday tasks such as running errands, doing yard work and going for a walk can become exhausting due to high pollen counts, dander and other factors that trigger allergies.
Many people try to ignore their allergies and instead choose to “tough it out.” However, it could come to a point where your allergies become unbearable or even life threatening, and a visit to the doctor’s office is needed. Not addressing the allergy typically leads to watery eyes and runny noses, but more severe cases can lead to anaphylaxis – a severe allergic reaction.
The first step to ridding yourself of the woes of allergies is to get tested. Allergy testing is used to find out what substance, or allergen, may trigger an allergic response in a person. The two most common types of allergy testing used are skin testing and a serum-specific IgE (immunoglobulin) antibody test. Once the allergy has been identified, the proper course of treatment can be issued.
Just as there are various kinds of allergies, there are various ways to treat them – and while there is no cure for allergies, symptom management through treatment is possible. These treatment options include:
- Antihistamines – to treat the “itchy,” “sneezy,” “allergic” component of allergies
- Anti-inflammatories – to treat the swelling, inflammatory component of allergies
- Environmental modification – making changes in flooring, air conditioning or humidity
- Allergy desensitization – used to gradually expose the patient to increasing doses of the allergen to eventually “desensitize” them to the allergen
- Allergy injections (immunotherapy) – generally used for indoor/outdoor environmental allergens
- Sublingual tablets – a new treatment option that can be used for some indoor/outdoor environmental allergens
- Drug desensitization – used in the case of drug allergy
- Sublingual immunotherapy
Don’t let your allergies keep you from enjoying your summer. With so many different treatment options, no one has to suffer through another summer full of scratchy throats and watery eyes.
About the Author
Nathan Box, DO, FAOCO, is an allergy specialist at Freeman Ear, Nose & Throat Center and is board certified by the American Osteopathic Board of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery. To learn more about allergies and treatment options, visit freemanhealth.com/allergy or call 417.347.8405 to make an appointment.