Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Dealing With Springtime Allergies

Yes, it’s that time of the year again. You’re sneezing. Your nose is runny and your eyes are watery. Springtime allergies have officially made their presence known.

“This year, springtime allergies may have caught many people off-guard,” says Alvin Sanico, MD, Director of the Asthma, Sinus, Allergy Program (ASAP) at GBMC. “Because we had such a mild winter, tree pollen counts began to rise quite early.”

The good news is that there is hope. Several treatment strategies exist for coping with allergies, from preventive, long-term measures to medications that help relieve symptoms once they’ve already started.

Common options include:

• Taking antihistamines to reduce sneezing, sniffling and itching
• Using decongestants to relieve nasal congestion and swelling
• Utilizing nasal steroid sprays to help prevent symptoms before they start or to relieve nasal congestion quickly
• Using eye drops to relieve itchy, watery eyes
• Receiving regular allergy shots as a long-term solution for severe allergies that can’t be successfully treated by other medications

Primary care physicians can help their patients decide the most appropriate treatment method. Or, they may refer patients to an allergist. Individuals should consider consulting an allergist if their symptoms are persistent or recurrent, interfere with daily activities and/or affect quality of life. Additionally, if commonly used medications are not sufficient or cause side effects or if individuals want to identify and avoid the allergens that contribute to their symptoms, seeing an allergist may be beneficial.

Depending on patient history and physical examination, diagnostic evaluation may include painless allergy skin testing without needles to identify factors that contribute to the condition, spirometry to measure lung function and nasal endoscopy to look for anatomic abnormalities such as nasal polyps that can cause congestion.

Take control of your allergy symptoms. To learn more about ASAP at GBMC, visit http://www.asapgbmc.com/.


To view all of our stories from May's Living Healthy, Living Well please click here.

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