Do you constantly sneeze, sniff, cough, have watery eyes, hives or an itchy throat? If so, you are probably one of the 20% of Americans who suffer from allergies. The term allergies refer to the way your body responds to a foreign substance (allergen).
If you are an allergy sufferer, there are certain things that can trigger your allergies such as pollen, dust mites, chemicals, plants (poison ivy), certain foods and medications, grass, pets, mold, and latex. It is very important to identify which substances can trigger yours so you can avoid them.
Do Some Tests
Since there are so many types of allergies, the best thing to do is visit your doctor or go see an allergy specialist. The doctor will ask you about your symptoms and habits, evaluate your situation and administer allergy tests, in order to identify the substances that you are allergic to. Some of the common allergy tests include skin and patch tests, RAST (Radioallergosorbent test) and the ELISA (Enzyme-Linked ImmunoSorbent Assay test). Some tests require a blood sample and it may take around 1 to 2 weeks to receive your test results back from the lab. Once your results are in, the doctor can recommend the best treatment options for you.
Some of the common treatment options include allergy shots, over-the-counter and prescription antihistamines, decongestants, nasal allergy sprays, medicated creams and allergy eye drops. Not all medications are effective for everyone, so it may take a little time to find the right one that works for you. Your doctor may also recommend that you take more than one type of medication for your allergies, such as Claritin, Allegra or Benadryl pills along with Nasonex or Flonase (nasal spray), in order to control your allergy reactions. In addition, your doctor may adjust or modify your diet, in order to help eliminate your allergy symptoms.
Once you know what makes you allergic, you can take measures to avoid these substances. For example, if you have indoor allergies and dust is one of the allergens, you should keep your house clean, filter the air, vacuum at least twice a week, dust your furniture 2 to 3 times a week, and wash and change your bedding at least once a week. Using HEPA vacuums and air purifiers to eliminate allergens is a proven method.
You should also wear gloves and a mask when you are cleaning and avoid any chemicals that may trigger your allergy reactions. Also, if you are allergic to pets, keep them on the outside, and if you’re allergic to smoke, make sure that there is no smoking in the house.
There is currently no cure for allergies, but with proper treatment and medication, you can control the symptoms and discomfort that accompany allergies. So, if you think you might have allergies, make an appointment with your doctor and start treating them today.