By: Pamela Egan, FNP-C CDE
Prevention is the best treatment for winter allergies
Having an allergy is a lot like having a bothersome relative or co-worker – you avoid the person as much as possible, but eventually you must deal with them. One in every 10 Americans suffers from some type of allergy.
Allergic reactions can be as mild as sneezing when you sniff a flower. But they can also be life-threatening in people who are allergic to bee stings or certain drugs, such as penicillin.
Whether mild, severe, or somewhere in between, however, most allergies have the same underlying cause.
The symptoms of an allergic response are triggered when the bodys infection-fighting (immune) system overreacts to the presence of something not normally found in the body – the most common allergy triggers are pollen grains, dust, molds and foods.
Other triggers include animal proteins from hair, fur or dander; substances that cause skin allergic reactions, such as the oils found on poison ivy leaves; and medicines, perfumes even jewelry.
Breathing problems and skin irritations are common allergic responses, along with sneezing, runny nose, congestion, itchy eyes, wheezing, skin redness, hives and skin itch. One suffering from allergies may experience one or more of these symptoms.
The most severe allergies can cause anaphylactic shock, an all-too-common, rapid and very dangerous reaction to eating foods one is allergic to. These include such things as peanuts, shellfish and insect stings.
Prevention is the best treatment for allergies
By identifying exactly what you’re allergic to, you can sometimes greatly limit symptoms without resorting to medical or over-the-counter treatments.
If you know you’re allergic to a given substance, avoid it if at all possible. Read food ingredient labels to check for the presence of your trigger food substances.
Corticosteroid nasal sprays such as Nasacort AQ, Nasonex, Flonase are helpful in preventing allergic rhinitis.
The effects are long-term so don’t expect immediate relief. Don’t mix these up with Afrin Nasal spray as your symptoms will worsen when it is discontinued due to rebound nasal congestion. Non-sedating antihistamines can help prevent secondary infections by decreasing mucous production. Be careful of cold and flu preparations over the counter. Decongestants should not be taken if you suffer with high blood pressure or other heart conditions. Sometimes mild corticosteroids are needed to stop the histamine reaction.
Ozone, the most powerful oxidizing agent occurring naturally in our clean outdoor environment, has the capacity to break down most of the organic chemicals that foul our indoor environment.
Ionized air filters are very effective in controlling allergens. In general, the use of this type of device to reactivate the air results in the same effect as being in an outdoor environment in a clean unpolluted part of the world. Testimonies show that with the use of this type of device: Allergic reactions are reduced, sleeping is improved, non specific headaches are reduced, general poor feeling about the environment improved, depression reduced, and symptoms of sinus problems were relieved. This filter kills bacteria, molds, and mildew.
Since I’ve placed the ionized filters in my home, my sons have not had to take allergy medication.
This article was originally published December 24, 2001 in The St. Tammany News.