Allergies are a common ailment that millions of people struggle with. There are several types of allergens that trigger adverse reactions, including pollen, certain foods, pet dander, medications and dust mites. Hay fever alone, which is an allergic reaction to pollen, occurs in about 17.9 million adults and 17.1 million children in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. CDC The good news is that no matter which type of allergy you have, you can make your condition easier to live with.
If you know what causes your allergies, avoid coming into contact with it as much as possible. Keep your house as clean as possible to reduce the presence of dust mites and pet dander. Run your air conditioner and keep your windows closed in spring and fall so that pollen won’t get inside your house. If you’re allergic to mold, don’t open your windows at night. If you have a food or drug allergy, it’s essential to avoid the specific allergen that affects you since these types of reactions can be severe or even life-threatening.
Over-the-Counter and Prescription Medications
Certain types of over-the-counter and prescription medications can provide allergy relief. Antihistamines are good at reducing the symptoms of allergies. These medications are available in several forms, including capsules, nasal sprays and liquids. Corticosteroids help reduce the inflammation that occurs with some types of allergic reactions. They’re usually used for more severe types of allergies, although they’re generally not used on a long-term basis. You might also find relief by taking decongestants if your allergies cause you to have a stuffy nose.
When it isn’t possible to avoid coming into contact with the allergen that affects you, your doctor might recommend getting allergy shots, or immunotherapy. These shots can also help if your allergy symptoms are difficult to manage. They work by preventing your immune system from overreacting to the substance that causes your allergies. You’ll have to see your doctor regularly for shots until you work your way up to the largest dose possible. This could take years to accomplish. Immunotherapy is usually used to treat hay fever and allergies to insect stings. It can’t be used for food allergies since the reactions that this type of allergen triggers can be dangerous.
Epinephrine is a medication that is used to treat serious allergic reactions called anaphylaxis. This type of reaction affects your whole body and can become life-threatening within a very short amount of time. Anaphylactic reactions occur more often from insect stings or bites, drug allergies and food allergies. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) advise you to take your epinephrine and call 911 if you experience any signs of this condition, such as difficulty breathing, facial swelling, palpitations or hives. NIH
If your allergies cause a secondary illness like eczema or asthma, make sure you follow your doctor’s instructions for treating it. Limiting your exposure to allergens and taking allergy medications won’t be enough to treat these other conditions. You might need to take other types of medications and use other forms of treatment, like making certain lifestyle changes or avoiding certain activities.