Health Tip: Springtime, when plants as well
as allergies come back to life.
An allergy occurs when your immune system overreacts to substances in the
environment, such as the pollen of trees, grasses, weeds, or mold spores. Allergy
histamine in the body, include itching, sneezing, hives, and wheezing. Seasonal
allergic rhinitis or "hay fever," is common
this time of the year because of the amount of pollen in the air. Common hay
fever symptoms are sneezing, stuffiness, a runny nose and itchiness in your nose,
the roof of your mouth, throat, eyes or ears. Fortunately, there are a
number of self-care measures that can help with springtime allergies. Reducing pollen exposure.
For seasonal allergies caused by plants
and trees, stay indoors when pollen counts are high. Information on
current pollen levels can be obtained from the National Allergy Bureau
website. During allergy season, the best time for outdoor activities isafter a rain, which helps clear pollen from the air. Avoid outdoor
activity in the mornings when pollen counts are the highest. To reduceexposure to outdoor pollen, keep windows shut and the air conditioner
on. Don't mow lawns or rake leaves because it stirs up pollen and
molds. Avoid hanging sheets or clothes outside to dry. If you workoutside, wear a dust mask.
Keeping indoor air allergy-free.
You won't be able to eliminate every
allergen from your home, but with these measures you can make it a
more comfortable place, especially during the peak of allergy season.
Use a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter in the bedroom.
Wood, tile or vinyl works best for floor surfaces since dust, mold, and
pollen can be removed more thoroughly than with carpet. Use ofmattress and pillow covers can decrease the exposure to dust mites,
since many hay fever sufferers are also allergic to dust mites. Indoorpets should be bathed regularly and kept off of the bed. Remove
clothes you've worn outside. Bathe and shampoo hair daily before
going to bed to remove pollen from hair and skin. Over-the-counter (OTC) Antihistamines.
All antihistamines, whether
OTC or prescription, work by blocking the release of histamine in the
body. They are best used when taken prior to the development of
symptoms, not after symptoms are present. OTC antihistamines
include diphenhydramine (Benadryl), chlorpheniramine (Chlor-Trimeton), loratadine (Claritin, Alavert) and cetirizine (Zyrtec). Of
these, loratadine and cetriziine are much less likely to cause sedation. Cromolyn sodium (NasalCrom) Nasal spray.
this OTC nasal spray prevents the release of histamine and helps withnasal symptoms of hay fever. It is most effective when taken before
several times a day. Nasal irrigation.
Several studies have
demonstrated the effectiveness of nasal
allergic rhinitis. Nasal irrigation can be performed with a neti pot, bulb syringe or
squeeze bottle to flush out nasal passages with saline (salt) solution.
Decongestants, such a
pseudoephedrine (e.g. Sudafed), helps with symptoms of nasal
congestion but do not treat the underlying allergic reaction.
Decongestants should not be taken long-term, because they may
affect blood pressure or urination. Decongestant nasal sprays such as
Afrin or Neosynephrine should not be used for more than 3 or 4 daysat a time for allergies in order to avoid rebound nasal congestion.
Nutrition and Dietary Supplements.
Quercetin, a plant pigment
responsible for the colors found in fruits and vegetables has been
found in the laboratory to block the release of histamine. Citrus fruits,apples, onions, parsley, grapes, and dark berries, such as blueberries
are the primary dietary sources of quercetin. While evidence that
quercetin is uniformly effective in preventing allergic symptoms inhumans is lacking, some hay fever sufferers do derive benefit by
taking quercetin supplements or increasing quercetin sources in thediet.
Herbal remedies and supplements.
Butterbur (Petasites hybridus,
500 mg per day) - appears to have some effectiveness in preventing
seasonal allergy symptoms. Two small studies demonstrated that anextract of butterbur was as effective as the antihistamines, Zyrtec or
Allegra. As with medications, herbal products have side effects and
can interact with other medications or supplements. Other herbalproducts that have shown promise in treating allergic symptoms
include stinging nettle (Urtica dioica) and goldenseal (Hydrastis
canadensis). When self-care measures fail.
There are a number of treatments for
managing seasonal allergy symptoms available by prescription or on
z Nasal steroids
, fluticasone (Flonase), budesonide (Rhinocort),
mometasone (Nasonex) and triamcinolone (Nasacort).
z Prescription antihistamines
, fexofenadine (Allegra) and the
z Leukotriene modifiers.
Montelukast (Singulair) is a prescription
tablet taken to block the action of leukotrienes - immune system
chemicals that cause allergy symptoms such as excess mucus
z Allergen immunotherapy ("allergy shots").
determine specific allergens responsible for symptoms is
necessary prior to undergoing desensitizing injections.
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