The weather has not felt very springy this year, but as things warm up, the buds will start blooming and the pollen will come! This will start having an impact on our allergy and asthma symptoms. According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, allergic diseases (e.g. asthma, allergic rhinitis, and eczema) affect more than 38 million people in the United States and result in over 20 million visits to physician offices annually. If you suffer from allergies or asthma it is important to work on controlling your environment and have a plan with your provider to utilize medications to help reduce symptoms this spring and through the summer.
Cleaning your environment is one of the first steps that will help limit your symptoms. Take time to reduce dust mites that have collected over the winter in your house, particularly in bedrooms. Dust mites are tiny bugs that cannot be seen and many people develop allergies to them and their waste products. To control dust mites, wash sheets, pillowcases, and blankets regularly in hot water and clean uncarpeted floors with a wet mop weekly. It is also important to prevent mold growth, so fix all water leaks or damp areas inside the house. Another option to keep your environment cleaner is to keep pets outside. This can be difficult for pet lovers, but some people can develop allergies to parts of an animal’s skin, saliva, or waste products that intensify allergic symptoms. It is best to keep furry loved ones outside or at least, keep them off furniture and out of bedrooms to help reduce symptoms.
If you suffer from allergy and asthma symptoms it is important to try and control or manage these environmental factors. It is also important to consult with your provider about the wide range of medication options available from antihistamines, inhalers, decongestants, or steroids. To help with relief, our clinic providers recommend starting with two common medication options- antihistamines and decongestants.
Antihistamines fight chemicals called histamines that enter our body when we come into contact with allergy triggers- pollens, dust mites, pet dander, ragweed. These histamines cause our nose to swell, eyes water, sneezing, itchiness and hives. Antihistamines are medications that help reduce or block these histamine chemicals and will reduce our allergy symptoms. They come in prescription and over-the-counter forms from tablets or liquids to nasal sprays and eye drops. Like all medications, they may have side effects to consider including drowsiness, dry mouth, dizziness, nausea.
For those that also suffer from annoying and painful nasal congestion with allergies, then adding a decongestant will help by shrinking swollen nasal tissue. Common decongestant side effects include trouble sleeping or feeling jittery. There are also many medicine options that combine antihistamines AND decongestants. They often have a “+D” or “Plus” in the name. Be sure to check the ingredient label so you don’t double up on too much; and always review the list of medication interactions to be safe. Getting a combination of antihistamines and decongestants will generally help most people get through a rough allergy season. If you still have questions or can’t get relief, then contact the Power County Family Clinic at 226-1057 for guidance on the safest and best options to help you control your asthma and allergy symptoms and be ready to enjoy the warmer weather to come!