Although spring is prime time for millions of people to suffer from seasonal allergies, people in southern California may be affected year-round. But don’t give up hope – you may be able to fight and win the battle against allergies!
WHAT ARE ALLERGIES?
There are some substances in the environment that are typically harmless, including pollen, mold, dust, and animal dander.
Such substances can be considered allergens when they cause reactions in people with hypersensitive immune systems. These reactions may be minor and include:
- red, watery, or itchy eyes
- itchy throat
- rash or hives
However, some people may experience more serious conditions such as an asthma attack or anaphylaxis. Symptoms of anaphylaxis include:
- shortness of breath
- tightness in the throat or lungs
- swelling of the face or throat
- hives and itchiness all over the body
- severe nasal congestion
HOW DO YOU KNOW IF YOU HAVE ALLERGIES?
If you exhibit some of the symptoms of allergies, you might just have a cold. If the symptoms persist, you may consult a physician to pursue allergy testing. Typically, the physician will use skin-prick testing and/or blood testing in order to make a diagnosis.
HOW DO YOU TREAT ALLERGIES?
The first line of defense against seasonal allergies is to reduce your exposure to them, using these tips:
- avoid outdoor activities when the pollen counts are the highest, typically in the morning and early afternoon, and when it is windy
- wear a mask if you vacuum or work in the yard
- close the windows in your car and home, and do not use fans in your home
- use a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter in your home
- if you have pets that go outdoors, do not allow them on carpets or in your bedroom, and wash them frequently
- after you have been outside, do not wear your shoes in the house, take a shower, and change your clothes
- install dehumidifiers in basements and garages where mold typically grows
- use a mold-detection kit to determine the mold levels in your home, and eradicate the mold
In addition to avoiding the offending allergens, you may successfully manage allergies by using over-the-counter or prescription treatments, including:
- antihistamines – such as Claritin®, Allegra®, and Zyrtec®, which are low-sedating
- decongestants – nasal spray decongestants such as Afrin® should not be used for more than 2 days
- nasal steroids – such as Nasonex® and Flonase®
- eye drops
- allergy shots
- alternative therapies, including supplements
However, if you feel that you are experiencing symptoms of anaphylaxis, you should seek emergency medical treatment immediately as it can be a life-threatening condition with symptoms that worsen very quickly. In addition, if you have already had such a severe allergic reaction, your physician may recommend that you carry an epinephrine injector with you at all times.
If you have questions or concerns about your allergies or the possibility of having allergies, please come in for a visit! No appointment is needed at our Pacific Beach Urgent Care location – call us at 858-224-7977.
The content provided in our website blogs is offered for informational purposes only, and it should not be considered as the practice of medicine or medical advice regarding the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition or disease. You should consult with a medical professional if you have any questions regarding a condition or disease in relation to your specific healthcare needs. If you feel that you are experiencing a medical emergency, please contact 911 immediately.