Advice for Allergy Sufferers
Spring is in the air, birds are singing and flowers are blooming. It’s a great time of year, except for those having seasonal allergies. Runny noses, itching eyes and sneezing fits can definitely be a nuisance and in some cases interfere with normal daily functions causing missed work and sending the afflicted to bed. It has been determined there are over 40 million Americans who suffer from allergies. But, there are ways to make living with them easier.
Most of us think we know how to stay healthy. But when people feel good, they often overlook the most important aspect of staying that way…the routine doctor’s checkup. Adults are generally advised to get a checkup annually, depending on a person’s age and health. Regular checkups are necessary to note any health changes that could be reason for concern. They are also a good time to get flu shots, vaccines and other tests. All this is fine and well, however it doesn’t address the prime concerns of allergy sufferers.
Those having reactions from pollen and other allergens are advised to limit their contact with them as much as possible to keep symptoms in check. Experts say the best way to avoid allergic reactions is to limit exposure to allergy triggers. The major culprits responsible are pollen, dust, mold and ragweed. So, try to stay indoors when pollen counts are high. And when driving, use the air conditioner.
There are a number of other ways. Physicians generally agree a good place to start is by shutting doors and house windows. Airborne pollen, especially from trees, can enter a home through these openings.
Or, buy a HEPA (High-Efficiency Particulate Air) filter. These filters trap air particles passing through an air purifier. They are used extensively in hospitals. One can easily be installed in home air conditioning systems. There are also ones that plug directly into a wall socket.
Another measure is vacuuming the home. Many pollen particles enter a home via pets, shoes and clothing. Clothes should be washed after being exposed to high pollen counts and showers can remove pollen clinging to hair and skin.
Speaking of pets, the allergy afflicted may also need to consider whether or not to have any as they are a major source of allergens. Especially dogs and how they may affect others in a family having allergies. This doesn’t mean they can’t have one. Some pets are loved as a member of the family. Just more care should be taken when selecting a breed. Although none are 100% hypoallergenic, some have less effect on sufferers.
Asthma and allergy sufferers can take measures to make living with their pets a little easier. These can include:
· Not letting pets into the bedroom or sleep on beds
· Bathing pets weekly with an allergen reducing shampoo
· Keeping them off furniture.
· Changing A/C and furnace filters monthly
· Cleaning, vacuuming and dusting frequently
Contrary to what some believe, dog allergies are not usually caused by the animal itself but to protein found in their saliva and shedding dander. It’s advisable not to choose breeds with double coats because they shed a lot. This would include such animals as huskies, Samoyeds, and Pomeranians. Additionally, avoid dogs that tend to drool excessively such as Saint Bernard's and bloodhounds.
So what’s left? Some of the best selections are poodles or a cross breed of poodle called a Labradoodle. Poodles have minimal shedding and are great family dogs. Not a poodle fan? There are other allergy friendly dogs such as the Chinese Crested Schnauzer, Bichon Frise, the Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier or Portuguese Water Dog.
Where a person lives may also determine just how bad allergies can become. Here are the top ten worst places to live for allergy sufferers. Notice they all have warm, humid climates:
· Tampa, FL
· Louisville, KY
· Orlando, Fla.
· Rochester, N.Y.
· Greensboro, KY
· San Francisco
· Las Vegas
· Austin, TX
· Little Rock, AR
· Savannah, GA
For those seeking relief there are many prescription allergy medications available such as antihistamines, decongestants and nasal sprays containing corticosteroids to fight nasal inflammation. Over the counter medicines for mild allergies and symptoms are fundamentally ruled as safe. But beware, some of these have been shown to raise blood pressure if overused. If a health care provider prescribes a nasal steroid spray, learn how to use it properly and learn about possible side effects. What about allergy shots? Most practitioners use them as a last resort.
There are those who prefer to treat their symptoms with natural remedies. However, natural doesn’t necessarily translate into safe. Before using any alternative medical approach it is advisable to consult a physician. Some herbal supplements have been shown effective in treating allergies, some have also been found to interact with certain medicines. Acupuncture has also been said to help some sufferers, but there have been no conclusive studies conducted to support their claims. Most doctors recommend trying other avoidance measures first.
So, when does one know to self treat allergies or see a doctor? Consider the following:
· Frequency - If allergy attacks are not too frequent, try managing them with over the counter products.
· Severity – If symptoms are mild, same advice. However, see a doctor if symptoms become severe.