Posted on: 31 March 2016
If you've spent most of your life in the arid Southwest, you may not have realized the extent of your seasonal allergies until traveling to areas with more airborne pollen, smog, and other potential irritants. Moving to such a region could leave you feeling foggy-headed for months as your body struggles to adjust and acclimate to a histologically hostile environment. What can you do to help manage your symptoms if you find yourself suddenly thrust into an environment your body can't handle? Read on to learn more about some successful seasonal allergy treatments, as well as what you can do to avoid (or at least minimize) your exposure to triggers.
What causes seasonal allergies?
While humans can be allergic to a nearly infinite variety of substances, the itching eyes, sinus drainage, sore throat, coughing, sneezing, and other unpleasant respiratory symptoms that are encompassed in the term "seasonal allergies" are primarily caused by pollen. From spring to fall, flowers bloom, crops sprout, and trees bear fruit -- all processes that require the production (and distribution) of pollen. Some individuals with sensitive mucus membranes find any pollen problematic, while others may be allergic to a specific plant's pollen that causes more severe symptoms.
Because allergies are an indication that your immune system is essentially overreacting to harmless stimuli, constant exposure to an allergen (like living in a pollen-heavy region) can eventually cause symptoms to level off or even wane, although the desensitization process can be tedious and uncomfortable. On the other hand, those who haven't had any exposure to these allergens before can find it to literally be a shock to the system. Seeking treatment quickly can help prevent these symptoms from worsening to the point that you have trouble functioning, while taking steps to minimize your exposure can help you acclimate more slowly.
What are your best treatment options for seasonal allergy symptoms?
The most effective fast-action options for your allergy symptoms include topically-applied steroid sprays and heavy-duty antihistamines. Alternative treatments like acupuncture may also offer some relief.
Nasal steroid spray
This treatment is ideal for those whose allergy symptoms are primarily sinus-related. Steroids help expand swollen and contracted nasal passages, and topical application (through a fine misting spray) can provide almost instant relief. There are a variety of steroid sprays available without a prescription, although if you find your allergies sometimes make it difficult to breathe, a doctor-prescribed steroid spray, like fluticasone nasal spray, may pack the added punch you need.
Like steroid sprays, oral antihistamines operate by helping widen your swollen or restricted breathing passages. Antihistamines can also help dry up running noses or watery eyes, so you'll need to be careful to ensure you remain sufficiently hydrated while taking this medication. One common side effect of antihistamines is sleepiness -- in fact, some over-the-counter antihistamines are even recommended by pediatricians as a safe way to encourage babies or toddlers to sleep on long car or airplane rides. If you depend on these medications to get you through the day without allergy symptoms, you may want to look into a daytime formulation.
If neither steroids nor antihistamines are bringing you long-lasting relief, you may want to give acupuncture a try. During your acupuncture appointment, you'll discuss your symptoms and allergy triggers with the acupuncturist, who will choose insertion sites based on the physical symptoms you've described.
While it's unclear exactly why this Eastern medicine can help those with allergies, the benefits are clear. In a recent study, allergy sufferers who received acupuncture treatments targeted toward allergy-related pressure points reported a much more dramatic decrease in allergy symptoms compared to the control group, who had acupuncture needles inserted in random, non-therapeutic spots.Share