How to manage allergy symptomsMarch 07, 2023
Does being outside or near pets make you sniffle and sneeze? Do certain foods make your mouth tingle or give you a rash? If so, you might have allergies.
Allergies happen when your immune system has a bad response to something that’s mostly harmless, such as pollen, pet hair, or tree nuts. The immune system identifies these things as dangerous, setting off an allergic reaction, like sneezing or a rash.
Allergies can develop at any age — young or old. If both your parents have allergies, you probably will too, but you may not be allergic to the same things or have the same reactions. Some people only have spring or fall allergies, while others say their allergies get worse at night.
Top common allergy triggers include pollen, mold, food, dust, pet dander, insect bites, medicines, latex, jewelry, perfumes, and lotions.
Common signs of an allergy include breathing problems; diarrhea, stomach cramps, or vomiting; headache; itchy eyes, nose, mouth, throat, or skin; runny or stuffy nose, coughing, and sneezing; skin rash or hives; watery, red, or swollen eyes; and wheezing.
Symptoms can range from mild to severe — and often can make you wonder if you have an allergy or a cold. Your doctor can help you figure out which is which and help you take the right steps to reduce your allergy symptoms. One of the best ways is to avoid the things that cause your allergies.
There are a number of habits you can develop to allergy-proof your surroundings:
- Change your furnace and air conditioner filter each season.
- Wash your sheets, pillowcases, and blankets at least once a week in hot water.
- Dust often, don’t use harsh chemicals, and wear a mask when you vacuum, clean, work in the garden, or mow the lawn.
- Vacuum at least once a week if you have carpet or rugs.
- Don’t let anyone smoke in your home.
- Keep the temperature in your home at 70°F and the humidity under 50 percent to help prevent dust mites and mold.
- Keep windows closed and use air conditioning if you’re allergic to pollen.
Treatment for allergies depends on the type of allergy you have and how bad it is. Over-the-counter and prescription medicines, such as antihistamines and steroid nasal sprays, can help ease seasonal allergy symptoms or pet allergies. Allergy shots give longer-lasting relief but usually need to be given over a few years before they’re fully effective.
It’s important to find a doctor or allergy specialist who can help you figure out what remedy works best for you. Your doctor may want to do a skin or blood test to pinpoint what type of allergy you have. They also could have you stop eating certain foods or avoid other allergy triggers to see if you feel better.
Severe allergic reactions need to be treated right away with a medicine called epinephrine, commonly known as an EpiPen®. Call 911 immediately if you or someone you’re with is having a severe allergic reaction.
If you think you may have allergies, talk to your doctor so you can live more comfortably.