If Past Attempts at Relief Haven’t Worked, Don’t be Afraid to Try New Treatment Regimen
For spring allergy sufferers, this time of year means the return of runny noses, congestion, sinus pressure, sneezing, dry coughing, headaches and itchy, red eyes.
According to the Allergy Foundation of America, researchers believe 50 million people in the United States suffer from allergies, affecting as many as 30 percent of adults and 40 percent of children. The residents of Southern Maryland may be particularly at risk for spring allergies, as this area of the country contains a large population of allergy-causing birch, cedar and pine trees.
Actions taken now, at the start of spring allergy season, may help alleviate symptoms, says MedStar physician Laura Riggins, MD, who has seen vast improvements in allergy treatments during her career. Before allergy season starts, Dr. Riggins recommends seeing your primary care physician to talk about your symptoms and come up with a plan for dealing with your allergies.
Many over-the- counter anti-histamines and eye drops can help, though she cautions it is best to first try taking anti-histamines at night to see how much they affect you, in case the anti-histamine causes drowsiness. The newest anti-histamines and nasal sprays have been improved over older generations of drugs. Many new medications do not cause drowsiness and new nasal aerosols do not cause dripping or an unpleasant taste.
If your symptoms persist, your physician can also write stronger prescriptions or advise you on further testing to pinpoint specific allergies. A physician should also be consulted when using decongestants if you have an existing heart problem or high blood pressure.
Other tips for dealing with spring allergies include venturing outside during the afternoon hours after peak allergens spike in the mornings. Dr. Riggins also recommends changing clothes and washing one’s hair before going to bed to keep particles off of your sheets and pillowcases. If you own animals that go outside, a daily rinse of your pet can help.
“If you know you have allergies, you don’t just have to live with them and suffer,” says Dr. Laura Riggins. “You can be helped. There have been advancements in treatments and there exists a wide variety of medications that can help you, either by themselves or in a combination that works for you.”