Health officials share recommendations to treat allergies with high pollen count this week
Allergy forecasts are showing moderate to very high pollen counts for this week.
Seasonal allergies affect as many as 60 million people per year in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Sneezing, congestion, itchy eyes, and throat irritation are all symptoms of allergies.
Aspirus Pharmacy Resident Megan Fleischman says it can sometimes be hard to distinguish between a cold and allergies.
“But there are a few telltale ways to tell them apart. For example, if someone has a cold they most like will have a fewer than if you have allergies. You should not have a fever if you have allergies. Also, if you’re coughing it should be of a dry cough if it’s allergy related. It will be more wet and hacking if its cold related,” said Fleischman.
There’s no cure for seasonal allergies.
There are plenty of over-the-counter allergy medicines available to either prevent symptoms or reduce them if you’re already having a reaction.
Keeping your windows closed, regularly vacuuming your house, or limiting time outdoors when the pollen count is high can also reduce symptoms.
“It’s time to see a doctor about your allergy symptoms if you are experiencing a lot of shortness of breath and difficulty breathing because of it or if it’s severely affecting your life like you’re not able to do your day-to-day activities, or if you’ve tried over-the-counter medications and nothing’s really helping you. Those are a few examples of when to speak to someone,” she said.
Here are some tips from the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (ACAAI) to help you get the most out of your allergy medications:
- Choose the Right Medication – There are many different types of allergy medications available, so it is important to choose the right one for your symptoms. Antihistamines are a common type of allergy medication that can help relieve sneezing, itching, and runny nose. Decongestants can help reduce congestion and sinus pressure. Nasal corticosteroids can help relieve inflammation and nasal congestion. Combination medications that include both an antihistamine and a decongestant are also available.
- Follow Dosage Instructions – It is important to follow dosage instructions carefully when taking allergy medications. Taking too much medication can be harmful, while taking too little may not provide relief. Always read the label and follow the instructions provided by your health care provider or the package insert.
- Take Medications at the Right Time – The timing of allergy medication can be important. Some medications, such as antihistamines, work best when taken before exposure to allergens. Others, such as decongestants, may be more effective when taken after exposure.
- Be Aware of Side Effects – Allergy medications can have side effects, so it is important to be aware of these before taking them. Common side effects of antihistamines include drowsiness, dry mouth, and blurred vision. Decongestants can cause nervousness, jitteriness, and increased heart rate. Nasal corticosteroids can cause nasal irritation, sore throat, and nosebleeds.
- Avoid Alcohol and Other Substances – Some allergy medications can interact with alcohol and other substances, such as certain medications or herbal supplements. It is important to read the label and talk to your healthcare provider or pharmacist before taking any new medications or supplements. Alcohol can also exacerbate certain allergy symptoms, such as nasal congestion and headache, so it is best to avoid it during allergy season.
- Keep Medications on Hand – Allergy symptoms can strike at any time, so it is important to keep your medications on hand. Consider keeping a supply at home, at work, and in your car. This can help ensure that you have access to relief when you need it.
- Consider Allergy Shots – If your allergies are severe or persistent, allergy shots, also known as immunotherapy, may be an option. This treatment involves regular injections of small amounts of allergens over a period of several years. The goal of this treatment is to desensitize the immune system to allergens and reduce the severity of symptoms. It is important to talk to your health care provider about the risks and benefits of allergy shots.
Fleischman recommends consulting with your healthcare provider before taking any medication.