Well, spring is in full swing. That means the flowers are blooming, trees are budding, and for 35 million people in the United States, seasonal allergy symptoms have also arrived.
So CNN’s Joyce Joseph takes a look at how to determine if that sneezing and sniffling is a cold or in fact an allergy. More importantly, how you can get some relief.
“I can’t breathe. My nose it seals up like a door is shut. It’s like that I can’t breathe anymore. Constantly sneezing, runny eyes.”
Like millions of Americans, Trey Gregory has seasonal allergies also called seasonal allergic rhinitis or hay fever.
“Seasonal allergies are generally allergies to different polons specifically the springtime is usually the trees. Sometime generally the grasses and full time generally the weeds.”
An allergic reaction is the immune systems response to an allergen. Some of the symptoms are runny nose, itchy watery eyes, and sneezing.
“At the peak of suffering from my seasonal allergies I had to avoid the outdoors pretty much the entire spring. Take the worst head cold you’ve ever had, remove being tired, and that’s it for me three months out of the year, all spring. It was miserable.”
Seasonal allergies and colds have similar symptoms, but if your symptoms come on suddenly and occur at the same time every year, chances are you have allergies. To be sure, you can get tested by an allergy specialist.
“There’s either skin testing of blood testing. Skin testing is doing little scratches on either your arm or on your back, and if you’re allergic you’ll get red and itchy swell up and you’ll know those results within about 10 or 15 minutes.”
With blood testing the lab looks for levels of the antibody called IGE in a patient’s blood. Levels are higher in people who have allergies.
“There’s no way you could essentially prevent allergies. There are ways you could treat it to make it less miserable, or to make it tolerable so you can live your life the way you like to live it.”
Try to limit your time outside on high pollen count days and especially on days that are very dry or windy. A saline nasal rinse can help clear allergens from your sinuses. For more relief, start with antihistamines. If you need something stronger, your doctor may prescribe steroids. And if you can’t avoid your allergens and other medications just don’t give you enough relief, allergy shots, also known as immunotherapy are an option.
Treys allergies were so severe he chose immunotherapy and it worked for him.
“No problem. It’s the best thing I ever did to treat my allergies easily.”
Allergies can affect anyone, at any age. And people with the family history are at greater risk. But it doesn’t mean they’re going to inherit a particular allergy, just a likelihood of having some kind of allergy.
You can log on to the American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology at aaaai.org for more information on allergies as well as a link to pollen and mold levels in your state.