What to do with bad allergies: Home Remedies for Allergies | Health.com
Managing Allergens to Control Seasonal Allergies
Allergies affect more than 50 million people in the United States — the poor souls who sniffle, sneeze, and get all clogged up when face to face with the allergen (or allergens) that set them off.
For many, allergies are seasonal and mild, requiring nothing more than getting extra tissue or taking a decongestant occasionally. For others, the allergy is to a known food, and as long as they avoid the food, no problem.
But for legions of others adults, allergies are so severe it interferes with their quality of life. The allergens — whatever it is that sets off the symptoms — may affect them more severely than others and may be harder to avoid.
Defining “severe” allergies, and pinpointing how many people are affected, is difficult even for allergists.
“When we say severe, we mean the allergies basically cause severe enough symptoms that they are interfering with life,” says Paul V. Williams, MD, a staff allergist at Northwest Asthma & Allergy Center, Mount Vernon, Wash.
That means, for instance, having to take sick days to cope with symptoms so severe you can’t work, or not being able to go outside on a day with a high pollen count, if that’s your primary allergen.
If your allergies are this severe, you know who you are. And experts offer these three strategies for coping.
Allergy Strategy 1: Know Your Allergens
The top environmental allergens, Williams and other allergists tell WebMD, are:
“It’s most common to be allergic to multiple things,” Williams says, “but not necessarily all of them.” Some people, however, are highly allergic to just one allergen, such as cat dander.
Whatever the allergen, it can trigger nasal symptoms, eye irritation and stinging, skin diseases or asthma, says Williams.
Sometimes it’s clear what your allergen is. If you visit a house with a cat, for instance, and start to have symptoms, you know. If it’s hay fever season and your nose starts running when you go outdoors, you know.
But if you can’t figure out what the offending allergen is, you can ask for skin tests. A doctor will place a tiny bit of the suspected allergen under your skin and watch for a reaction. The doctor should then be sure that your symptoms match the allergen they used, Williams tells WebMD.
Allergy Strategy 2: Control Your Allergens
Once you know your target, you can start to eliminate or control it.
Controlling Animal Dander
Lovable as household pets may be, they can create big problems for people with allergies, says Michael M. Miller, MD, associate professor of medicine at the University of Tennessee Health Sciences Center, Knoxville.
The offending allergen is a protein found in the saliva, dead skin scales (called dander) or the urine of an animal with fur, including dogs and cats, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. The protein, when airborne, can land in the eyes or nose or be inhaled into the lungs.
Allergy symptoms can pop up immediately after contact or even up to 12 hours later.
The only way to eliminate the allergen, allergists say, is to get rid of the pets. But the advice often falls on deaf ears, Williams says. “Most of the time, patients won’t eliminate the pet from their environment.”
Even if an allergic person does part with a dog, the animal’s allergens may hang on in the house for a year or longer, according to the Academy.
If parting with the pet is not possible, Williams says: “Keep the pet out of the bedroom and no carpeting in the bedroom.” Hardwood or tile floors collect less allergen. Damp mop floors often to reduce allergen levels, he suggests.
“Have at least one ‘safe zone’ in the house” if you can’t part with a pet, advises Neeti Gupta, MD, an allergist in East Windsor, N.J. Your bedroom would be ideal as a safe room that’s off limits to your pet.
Brushing a dog regularly — outdoors, so the allergen doesn’t get trapped inside — can also help, Williams says.
And if you’re furniture shopping for sofas or chairs, pick leather over fabric if possible, Williams says. “You can wipe it off,” he says.
Controlling Dust Mites
Dust mites feed on common house dust, a mixture of small pieces of plant and animal material. The microscopic creatures also cling to carpets, bedding and furniture. The dust mites’ fecal matter contains the allergens, Williams says, and these allergens are airborne for a short time before dropping to surfaces. “Most exposure comes from being up close and personal with the dust mite.”
Put barriers between you and those mites, he says, by buying and using the allergy-proof covers for bedding.
Miller suggests allergy-proof encasings for the mattress, pillows, and box springs. “The mites feed on skin cells, and they live on your bed. They dig down into the mattress. The encasings don’t allow them to penetrate into the mattress.”
Pay close attention to the cleanliness of your bedding, too, to avoid allergens. Wash it weekly in hot water that is 130 F or higher, Williams says, to kill the critters. Newer models of washers may be capable of heating the water this hot, he says, but “most of the time you have to turn up the water heater. “
His advice: “Turn it up and measure the water the next day, 12 to 24 hours later, with a candy thermometer. If there are kids in the home, turn it up a day before you do the wash [and then lower it later, to reduce the risk of scalding].”
Using a dehumidifier to keep the humidity lower than 50% can help control your dust-mite population, according to experts at the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.
While some allergy-prone people take great pains to plant so-called ”low-allergy” trees and shrubs, it’s not foolproof. “Pollen can travel great distances,” Miller says.
“Even if your yard has ‘low allergy’ trees, pollen can come from miles away,” Miller says.
With pollen, agrees Gupta, “There’s only so much you can do without having to live in a bubble. If you are indoors, keep your windows shut, use the air conditioner, drive with the car windows shut.”
Molds are more an outdoor problem than indoor, says Williams, unless your plumbing indoors is leaking. If the bathroom shower or tub gets a little mold ring around it, he says, it typically won’t bother the allergy-prone unless it’s disturbed and the spores become airborne.
To get rid of household mold, apply a cleaning solution of 5% bleach and a small amount of detergent, suggest experts from the American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology.
Outdoors, airborne mold from vegetation can trigger an allergic reaction, too. Allergic reactions to mold are most common from July to late summer, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America.
Allergy Strategy 3: Obtain Good Treatment
Allergy treatment won’t “cure” your allergies, but they can significantly reduce your allergy symptoms. Key treatments include antihistamines and decongestants. Antihistamines treat the runny nose and itching eyes and nose. Decongestants reduce the stuffiness.
Prescription nasal steroid sprays also help, Williams says. Nasal steroid sprays prevent the release of substances that inflame mucus membranes, thus reducing your inflammation. “For these to be most effective they need to be used on a regular basis,” he says.
Another option, says Miller, is to use antihistamine nasal sprays; there are even some prescription-strength sprays approved to treat seasonal allergies.
The asthma prescription drug montelukast can also help allergy symptoms, Miller says.
Immunotherapy, better known as allergy shots, can help, too, he says. “Those are for people whose allergies are difficult to control [even with medication or environmental measures], or people who don’t want to continue taking medication all their lives,” Miller says.
For some people, the medications may not work as well over time, Gupta says. “Patients often tell me the medications that worked last year don’t work this year.” Some patients can switch to another medication; other patients may consider immunotherapy.
Immunotherapy can also reduce the risk of developing asthma, Miller says. “It’s never too late to start.”
Before you start allergy shots, your allergist will do a series of tests to pinpoint which allergens cause your allergies. Then, typically, allergy shots are given twice a week for a few months, tapered to once a week for about six months, then every one to four weeks for up to five years, Miller says.
Seasonal Allergies: 4 Routes to Relief
Ah, fall. The perfect time to get outside for long walks in the neighborhood, hikes in the hills, and autumn gardening.
But that “ah” can quickly become “ah-choo” if you’re one of the 36 million Americans with seasonal allergy problems. The runny nose, itchy eyes, and congestion — all typical fall allergy symptoms — can slow you down and make you miserable.
While there have been no dramatic advances recently in allergy treatment, experts say if you are allergy-prone, you can take a number of steps to minimize the misery.
1. Know Your Allergy Triggers
Triggers, or allergens, can vary by region of the country, but two main culprits are to blame for many fall seasonal allergy problems, experts say.
- Ragweed and other weed pollens. Ragweed is a stubborn plant and grows easily in fields, along roadsides, and in vacant lots. A plant can produce a billion pollen grains in a season, and the grains can travel up to 400 miles because they are so lightweight.
- Molds. Outdoor molds grow in heavy vegetation, hay and straw, and are found in raked leaves. Outdoor molds increase after rain, too.
Predicting how bad an allergy season will be is an inexact science, but there are some general links with weather, says Gary Rachelefsky, MD, a staff allergist at Santa Monica-UCLA Medical Center and Orthopaedic Hospital. “Usually when there is more rain, there is more pollen,” he says. Outdoor mold can increase, too, with more moisture. So if you live in an area struck by flooding or heavy rains in the spring or summer, you can probably expect a worse-than-usual allergy season.
2. Learn Do-It-Yourself Measures
It may sound obvious, but avoiding the allergens is the No.1 measure suggested by allergy experts. There are many steps you can take to eliminate or minimize your exposure to allergens and improve seasonal allergy symptoms. Among the often-cited measures:
- Wear a protective mask when gardening or doing yard work.
- Modify the indoor environment to keep out allergens, says Clifford W. Bassett, MD, vice chairman of the Public Education Committee of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. For instance, use HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filters in air conditioners to better trap pollen spores. “Change air condition filters often,” he says.
- Check pollen counts before you travel. “If you are traveling with allergies, consider vacations near the ocean or bays,” Bassett says. “Pollen counts there are typically lower.” To find pollen counts, contact the National Allergy Bureau (www.aaaai.org/nab), which offers reports to the public. Or check your local weather report; some provide pollen and mold spore counts.
- Protect your eyes. On vacation and at home, wear sunglasses when outdoors to reduce the amount of pollen coming into the eyes, Bassett suggests.
- “Wash your hair at the end of the day to wash out pollens,” Bassett suggests. That will help avoid pollen transfer to the pillowcase.
- Exercise in the morning or late in the day, Bassett says, when pollen counts are typically lower than at other hours. Know that pollen counts typically are higher on a hot, windy, sunny day compared with a cool day without much wind.
- Check the dog. “Pets can bring in pollen,” says Pamela Georgeson, DO, member of the AAAAI Public Education committee and an allergist in Chesterfield Township, Mich. You might consider rinsing off the dog if it were outside on a high-pollen day, she says.
3. Get Proper Treatment
An allergist or your primary care doctor can recommend a variety of medications, some over-the-counter and some needing a prescription, to improve your seasonal allergies. Many are approved for use in children. A home remedy, nasal lavage, may help, too.
Topical nasal sprays, available by prescription, work well, says Georgeson. “They actually reduce the inflammation in the lining of the nose,” she says. Examples are Flonase and Nasonex. They contain medications called corticosteroids, which work by reducing inflammation and are “minimally if at all absorbed,” she says. The sprays are typically used daily, before and during allergy season.
Oral antihistamines are another option. Some, such as Allegra and Claritin (and generic loratadine), are now over the counter, Georgeson says, while others, such as Zyrtec and Clarinex, are by prescription.
A newer option is Astelin, a nasal spray antihistamine.
Antihistamines are often recommended along with topical nasal corticosteroids, Georgeson says. Antihistamines work by preventing more histamine (a chemical released during an allergic reaction) from being released.
Prescription eye drops can help itchy eyes.
Another option is the medication Singulair, also used to treat asthma, which works by blocking leukotrienes, substances which help cause allergy symptoms.
Nasal irrigation or lavage may help, too.
Many over-the-counter allergy options contain a combination of drug ingredients that may include a decongestant. Decongestants may elevate blood pressure and heart rate, so check in with your doctor to make sure that it is OK for you to take these.
A longer-term solution is immunotherapy, or allergy shots. Tiny amounts of the allergen are injected over time, provoking an antibody response. “It actually changes a person’s immune system,” Georgeson says. But it takes time. “Generally most physicians will treat from three to five years,” she says.
“Allergy injections are used more often in adults than kids,” says Ronald Ferdman, MD, attending physician at Childrens Hospital Los Angeles. “Allergies change in kids. They could get worse or better, and they could get sensitive to different allergens. Most of the time they get worse.”
Under development is “sublingual” allergy therapy, says Bassett. Tiny amounts of the allergen are placed under the tongue, using the same concept as the allergy shots but with a different and more convenient delivery system.
4. Beware of Foods That Trigger Your Symptoms
If you have seasonal allergies to ragweed, be aware that eating certain foods may trigger your symptoms. “This is the concept of oral allergy syndrome,” Bassett says.
It’s a double-whammy, he says. About one-third of people with fall seasonal allergies will have a cross-reaction to certain foods, he says. Foods that might provoke symptoms in those with ragweed allergies, according to AAAAI, include bananas, cucumbers, melons, zucchini, sunflower seeds, and chamomile tea.
Finding Relief from Seasonal Allergies
The transition between seasons can be a welcome change of scenery. For many people, though, the weather and foliage is not the only major change that comes from shifting from summer to fall. For some, sniffling, sneezing and watery eyes may accompany them as well.
Seasonal allergies are the body’s reaction to airborne substances. Not everyone experiences seasonal allergies, but for those who do, the symptoms can be as predictable as April showers and May flowers.
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Whether you’re a long time allergy sufferer or finding yourself new to the seasonal sniffles, Mariel Benjamin, M.D., an allergy and immunology specialist at Michigan Medicine, offers answers to some frequently asked questions about seasonal allergies.
How do I know if I have seasonal allergies?
It can be tricky to distinguish if you have a common cold or seasonal allergies (also referred to as hay fever or allergic rhinitis.)
Symptoms of allergies can include:
One of the major distinguishing symptoms is itching or puffiness, which is less commonly associated with cold or respiratory virus symptoms.
If your symptoms don’t go away after a week or two, it’s pretty likely that seasonal allergies are the culprit.
Allergies can emerge at any time in your life. You often see allergy symptoms start in childhood and peak during young adulthood, but for some people, symptoms can actually disappear in later adulthood.
What causes allergies?
Depending on what you’re allergic to, your allergies may be triggered by different pollens such as tree pollen, grass pollen or weed pollen. Ragweed, for example, is a common weed pollen that bothers many allergy sufferers.
Mold spores from naturally occurring molds, like those that grow in vegetable gardens or leaf piles, can also cause allergic reactions. Even mowing the lawn can unearth mold spores and trigger symptoms for some.
SEE ALSO: The Do’s and Don’ts of Preventing Peanut Allergies in Babies
Depending on what you’re allergic to, your symptoms may be worse in the fall or spring. Molds are prevalent, for example, spring through fall, whereas ragweed and other weed pollens are worse in late summer and into the fall.
If your symptoms persist year round, you may actually be dealing with an allergen in your home or other environment, such as dust or pet dander.
Do you need to know what you’re allergic to?
Knowing what you’re allergic to may be less important than remembering when your symptoms tend to flare up so you can plan ahead before symptoms really kick-in.
If you’re dealing with mild allergy symptoms, you may be able to find relief through over-the-counter therapies without knowing exactly what you’re reacting to.
How to Manage Spring Allergies – Cleveland Clinic
Right now, we’re well into spring allergy season. In many parts of the country, this season begins in February and can last until early summer. But did you know that each allergy season varies slightly?
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Find out what makes the spring allergy season different from Frank J. Eidelman, MD, MBA, FAAAAI and learn how to manage the sneezing, wheezing, sniffling and more.
What happens during the spring allergy season?
“When we talk about spring allergies, we’re talking about tree pollen,” says Dr. Eidelman. “In a temperate climate, there are three basic pollen seasons. You have spring which is tree season, summer brings more grass pollen and in the fall, you have more weed pollen and a little bit of mold.”
He adds that in subtropical areas, there are still three main pollen seasons. However, the grass pollen season can be much longer and since these areas don’t get winter weather or true frost to stop trees and plants from producing pollen, allergy seasons don’t end.
If you feel like your spring allergies are worse year after year, you’re not imagining things. What you’ve experienced was most likely due to global warming.
Dr. Eidelman explains.
“With climate change, spring pollination has become worse during the last 10 to 20 years. As the seasons get hotter, we’re getting more pollen, longer pollination seasons and more intense pollination seasons. This seems to be a worldwide trend.”
How many people suffer from allergies?
According to Dr. Eidelman, one out of five people has some sort of allergy and the intensity can range from very mild to severe.
He says people with mild allergies tend to just grin and bear it. They may not have any particular need for medication. If their allergies are a little bit more intense, they may take over-the-counter (OTC) medications as needed.
“But as you get further along that spectrum, the severity of the illness can become disabling. People feel very sick, they can’t get out of bed, they can’t sleep — it can be intense. So, it all depends on where they are on that spectrum of intensity,” he says.
How bad can spring allergies get?
“People can be very miserable. Their eyes can become itchy and swollen, their noses get congested, they sneeze a lot and if they have asthma, their lungs can become irritated.”
Dr. Eidelman says if you have allergic rhinitis or nasal allergies, things can get really bad and may affect your quality of life quite significantly.
“People might have trouble working or going to school. They may have trouble sleeping and they often feel tired. Even if they try to get enough sleep, it’s not normal sleep. So, work presenteeism can be quite common. This is when people show up to work or school but they can’t function at 100% because they’re kind of out of it — like they feel when they have a cold or the flu.”
According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, allergies are the sixth leading cause of chronic illness in the United States. The annual cost from all of this is around $18 billion per year.
Is it OK to treat allergies with over-the-counter medicines?
Dr. Eidelman says that many of the best nasal medications are now available over-the-counter. He adds that the options fall under a few different categories.
“The first category would be antihistamines. Almost all of them are available over-the-counter now, but there are two basic groups. Older antihistamines, or first-generation antihistamines, are typically sedating and include medicines like Benadryl® (diphenhydramine). Second-generation antihistamines, which include medications like Claritin® (loratadine), Allegra® (fexofenadine) and Zyrtec® (cetirizine), are much less sedating or nonsedating. These antihistamines would be the preferred ones for basic symptoms like itching, sneezing or runny nose.”
Dr. Eidelman recommends being very careful with diphenhdyramine.
“A lot of people use it and it’s very sedating. Studies have shown that when people who think they’re not sedated are put in a driving simulator, their reaction times are slower. And when left in a quiet room, these people fall asleep quickly. It’s very deceiving. You might think the medication isn’t affecting you, but you’re compensating in some way and when you’re put to the test, you may not function well. Also, it depends on your age. As you get older, the effects are more profound.”
Decongestants and nasal sprays
Dr. Eidelman says when you start experiencing nasal congestion, postnasal drip and sinus pressure, antihistamines aren’t particularly effective. To help with these symptoms, one option is to add something like Sudafed® (pseudoephedrine), which is a decongestant. Decongestants are not recommended for people with hypertension or heart problems. A better option would be a topical nasal steroid like Flonase® (fluticasone), Rhinocort® (budesonide), Nasonex® (mometasone) or Nasacort® (triamcinolone).
“Topical nasal steroid sprays are the gold standard for moderate to severe nasal allergies. They work well, but the thing to keep in mind is that they don’t have an immediate effect. That’s the downside,” he says.
However, nasal steroid sprays do block a lot of allergy symptoms by preventing inflammation. Topical nasal steroids are nonsedating and they usually don’t have side effects, but you have to use them every day.
Since we have a pretty good idea of when spring allergy season starts, Dr. Eidelman recommends starting a topical nasal steroid spray one or two weeks before so it will be effective by the time the pollen starts to fly. He suggests using the spray daily until the season ends.
Possible side effects of decongestants
Pseudoephedrine can help with congestion and is found in combo medications like Allegra-D®, Claritin-D® and Zyrtec-D®. Dr. Eidelman says it’s a good medication, but it can cause side effects — and the side effects are more prominent in older people.
“It can raise blood pressure and it can also cause palpitations because it is a stimulant. Overall, I don’t recommend it for people with heart problems. I also wouldn’t recommend that people over 40 take it regularly.”
He adds that pseudoephedrine can also cause prostate problems. So if you’re older, you’re much better off with a topical nasal steroid.
When to consider allergy shots
If over-the-counter-medicines and nasal sprays don’t seem to be working, you might want to consider allergy shots. Dr. Eidelman says they can help lessen your sensitivity to pollen and more.
Allergy shots, also known as immunotherapy, can make you less sensitive to all the things that you’re allergic to. For example, if you’re allergic to tree pollen, you would get an allergy shot that’s made out of tree pollen protein.
So what does that mean?
“In a lab, they extract the protein from tree pollen and they make an extract with it. That extract is then used to desensitize or make the patient less sensitive to tree pollen. Allergy shots are very effective and many controlled studies have reflected this. Allergy immunotherapy is the only treatment that has the potential to cure allergic rhinitis,” Dr. Eidelman says.
Watch out for “natural” allergy remedies
Neti pots and nasal rinse squeeze bottles can provide relief if you’re looking for medicine-free ways to treat your allergies. However, Dr. Eidelman says it’s important to use distilled water with them to avoid getting infections and don’t use ice-cold water unless you enjoy brain freeze. Most of these methods just involve flushing out the nasal cavity with salt water and they’re fairly safe when used correctly.
If you have tree pollen or plant allergies, he recommends steering clear of herbal remedies.
“If you have pollen allergies, I don’t recommend anything herbal. For example, people who are allergic to ragweed sometimes have serious allergic reactions to echinacea. Echinacea is a commonly used immune stimulant. It’s an herbal product, derived from the purple coneflower, which is a close relative of ragweed. So, don’t take echinacea if you’re allergic to ragweed. With herbal products, keep in mind that just because something’s natural, it doesn’t mean that you’re not going to be allergic to it.”
6 Remedies for Fall Allergies – Cleveland Clinic
You’re stuffy and congested, your eyes are watering and your nose is running… ah, it must be autumn! As beautiful as fall can be, it can also be agonizing if you’re prone to seasonal allergies.
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Allergist Mark Aronica, MD, talks fall allergies, including what causes them and how to handle them.
What causes fall allergies?
Fall allergies go under the category of allergic rhinitis, also called hay fever, which happens when your body’s immune system reacts to an inhaled pollen in the air. It can cause:
- Itchy eyes.
- Runny nose.
- Post-nasal drip (that feeling of constantly needing to clear your throat of mucus).
Allergic rhinitis encompasses seasonal allergies — those that arrive with the onset of a particular season — as well as allergies you have all year round, known as perennial allergies.
“Perennial allergens are year-round and include people who are sensitive to animal danders (like cats and dogs), as well as dust mites, cockroaches and molds, which are also considered to be year-round allergens,” Dr. Aronica explains. “Seasonal allergens include the spring and fall pollens — and spring allergens also include trees and grasses.”
How common are fall allergies?
An estimated 15% to 30% of the U.S. population is thought to have allergic rhinitis. You’re more likely to have fall allergies if you have:
“All people are different, but often people with allergies are sensitive to multiple allergens — spring, fall and perennial,” Dr. Aronica says. “Sometimes, though, we do see patients with only a few sensitivities or with symptoms only in one of the seasons.”
The most common fall allergies
It’s such a pretty season, but you can’t seem to stop sneezing. So what is it that you’re actually allergic to?
“Fall allergens are generally weeds,” Dr. Aronica says. He breaks down some of the most common allergens during this time of year.
The most common fall allergen is ragweed, a member of the daisy family that starts to bloom in North America in late August and lives through autumn.
Ragweed’s flowers produce significant amounts of pollen, which makes it an especially potent allergen. A single ragweed plant can release up to a billion grains of pollen!
Other seasonal weeds
Ragweed may be the primary culprit of fall allergies, but it certainly isn’t the only one. Other weeds associated with allergic rhinitis include:
- Russian thistle.
How to cope with fall allergies
The best way to try to prevent allergy issues is to try to stay away from the things you’re allergic to. “The mainstay of therapy is avoidance,” Dr. Aronica says.
But that can be difficult when you’re allergic to pollen, which blows in the crisp autumn breeze and settles on everything in its path. He explains how to fight fall allergies.
You don’t have to lock yourself indoors and skip the season, but some preventative measures can help lessen the likelihood of itchy eyes and a runny nose.
Close your windows
Open windows welcome pollen. In the fall, when your allergies are high, use your home’s air conditioner or heat instead, if possible (depending on the temperature outside).
Wash your hands and face
Who doesn’t love autumnal activities like apple-picking, hiking trick-or-treating? Fun as they are, though, they all expose you to pollen.
After you’ve spent time outdoors, take care to wash your hands and face when you return indoors, which will help get rid of lingering pollen.
Change your clothes
It’s not just your skin: Pollen even settles on your clothes! In addition to washing yourself off, you may consider changing into an outfit untainted by pollen, which will keep the sneezy stuff further from you.
Somebody’s got to mow the lawn — but if at all possible, avoid outdoor chores that kick up allergens, like pulling up weeds and raking leaves.
Wear a mask
The pandemic isn’t the only reason to wear a face mask! Covering your mouth and nose with a mask can also keep pollen from making contact.
Home remedies for fall allergies
Though the steps above will help you come into contact with less pollen, it’s just about impossible to fully avoid pollen. If you’re still sneezy, get an assist from science and hit up a drugstore or pharmacy to try an over-the-counter medication designed to relieve your allergy symptoms.
“Many allergy medications are safe and now available over the counter, including nasal steroid sprays like fluticasone and triamcinolone, and the long-acting, non-sedating antihistamines such as loratadine and cetirizine,” Dr. Aronica says. “These medications are generally very good at managing most allergies.”
Take your allergy medicine before your allergies get bad, especially on days predicted to have high pollen counts. Local news channels and online weather websites offer pollen forecasts that can help you stay up to date.
When to see a doctor
If you’re doing everything you can but still can’t kick the sniffles and sneezes, it may be time to see an allergy specialist for extra help.
“We can do a skin test to identify a patient’s specific allergens and to determine if there are additional pollens or if they have a perennial allergy,” Dr. Aronica says. “If you might be interested in allergy shots, that is only something an allergist can provide. ”
Allergy shots — also called allergen immunotherapy or subcutaneous immunotherapy (SCIT) — are a way to slowly decrease your sensitivity to certain allergens, which can greatly reduce your symptoms. But they’re typically a long-term therapy used only after you’ve tried everything else.
And as Dr. Aronica points out, not all runny noses are due to allergies. A skin test will also show whether you are indeed experiencing allergies. If not, you’ll know to seek continued medical input to figure out what’s causing your symptoms.
Can you “recover” from allergies?
Allergy symptoms can vary during a person’s lifetime, depending on where they live and what they’re exposed to. If your primary issue is fall allergies and then you move someplace where pollen is less abundant, you’ll probably experience a drop in symptoms when autumn comes around.
Ultimately, there is no cure for allergies. But by arming yourself with allergy medication, preventative measures and pollen forecasts, you can finally enjoy autumn, rather than sneeze your way through it.
Control Indoor Allergens to Improve Indoor Air Quality
Control Indoor Allergens to Improve Indoor Air Quality
Allergy and asthma control begins at home. Many people with allergies stay indoors when pollen and mold is high. But dust mites, pet dander and even cockroaches can cause problems indoors.1
The Environmental Protection Agency recommends three ways you can improve indoor air quality2:
- Control your contact with indoor airborne allergens
- Ventilate your indoor areas well
- Use air cleaners to clean indoor air
Eight out of 10 people in the United States are exposed to dust mites. Six out of 10 are exposed to cat or dog dander. Cockroaches cause allergic reactions in people who live in the inner cities or southern parts of the United States. 3
Better air quality in your home, office, school and car can reduce allergy and asthma triggers.
What Size Are Allergens?
Allergens are substances that cause allergic reactions and trigger asthma symptoms in some people. The air spreads allergens around. They settle onto furniture and floors. They vary in size and are measured in microns (also called micrometers).4
Is It Possible to Control Indoor Allergens?
You can control indoor allergens with cleaning and reducing allergens in your home. The main sources of indoor allergens are:
- Wall-to-wall carpet
- Soft furniture
- Stuffed toys
- Damp areas
- Indoor plants
- Mattresses that aren’t in allergy covers
- Pillows and bedding you can’t wash in hot water
There may be more allergens on surfaces than in the air. Surface allergens enter the air easily when you disturb them by dusting or sitting.
Will Air Cleaning Devices Help?
Air cleaning devices might help. But the best way to improve your air quality is to get rid of the sources of allergens and irritants from your home. Take measures to avoid and reduce your contact with allergens. Also increase the flow of outdoor air into your home and reduce humidity as much as possible.
Reducing humidity decreases dust mites and mold growth. Air conditioners help reduce humidity too. They can also prevent outdoor allergens. Keep your windows and doors closed. Turn your air conditioner on recirculate. These steps can help reduce outdoor allergens like pollen and mold.
Air cleaners with CERTIFIED asthma & allergy friendly® filters can filter almost 98% of allergen particles in the air. Look for CERTIFIED asthma & allergy friendly® devices.
What Steps Can I Take to Control Indoor Allergens?
Control dust mites. Keep surfaces in your home clean and uncluttered. Bare floors and walls are best, especially in the bedroom where you spend one-third of your time. Avoid wall-to-wall carpet, if possible. If you must have carpet, use low-pile carpets or throw rugs you can wash. Also avoid heavy drapes and overstuffed fabric furniture. Replace drapes and blinds with roll-down shades or washable curtains.5
Use zippered allergen-resistant or plastic covers on your pillows, mattresses and box springs. These covers are very effective in controlling your contact with dust mites. Encasing mattresses works better than air cleaners to reduce allergy symptoms. Wash your bedding, uncovered pillows and stuffed toys in water 130 degrees Fahrenheit or hotter each week. Dry them in a hot dryer cycle to kill dust mites.
Vacuum once or twice a week. Vacuuming helps keep allergens low. But poor quality vacuums could put dust into the air. Look for CERTIFIED asthma & allergy friendly® vacuums. These vacuums have been tested and found to prevent allergens from going back into the air.
If you have allergies, wear a mask while doing housework. Use a cloth that is damp or treated with polish for dusting. Leave the house for several hours after cleaning it.
Prevent pet dander. Most doctors suggest that people who have allergies to animal dander not have pets with feathers or fur. There is no such thing as a hypoallergenic pet. People with pet allergies are allergic to animal dander which are shed skin cells that all animals have. Some animal dander has fewer allergenic proteins. This may lead to fewer or no symptoms.
Keep pets out of your bedroom. Close the doors to bedrooms when you are not home to keep pets out. Cover vents with dense material like cheesecloth. Animal allergens are sticky. Wash and change your animal’s favorite furniture and toys often.
Replace wall-to-wall carpet with bare floors or a low-pile carpet. Bathing and brushing your pets often may reduce symptoms. But avoid grooming your pets if you have animal allergies. If you must groom them, wear a mask.
Long-haired pets can also bring pollen inside in high pollen seasons like spring and fall.
If you suspect you have a pet allergy, see a board-certified allergist for allergy testing.
Prevent pollen from getting inside by keeping windows and doors closed. Use air conditioning in warm weather to control dust mites and reduce humidity. Change filters often.
Avoid mold spores. Reduce moisture around the bathroom, kitchen and other areas where there is a lot of water. Here are some ways you can reduce mold:
- Don’t run your showers for a long time before bathing.
- Use dehumidifiers to reduce both mold and dust mites.
- Use humidity monitors.
- Limit yourself to a few house plants.
- Fix all leaks and other causes of damp areas.
- If you see mold on a surface, clean it immediately. Wear a mask and clean the surface each week to keep it from returning.
Control cockroaches. Do not leave food or garbage uncovered. Use poison baits, boric acid and traps instead of chemicals. Chemicals may irritate your sinuses and asthma.
Medical Review September 2015.
 Päivi M. Salo, et al. Exposure to multiple indoor allergens in US homes and relationship to asthma. JACI. Mar 2008. (Retrieved April 24 2017)
 Improving Indoor Air Quality. (2016, October 14). Retrieved April 24, 2017, from https://www.epa.gov/indoor-air…g-indoor-air-quality (Retrieved April 24 2017)
 Sporik, R. Exposure to House Dust Mite Allergen, NEJM. 1990, 323 (8), p.502. (Retrieved April 24 2017)
 Middleton, E., Adkinson, N. F., Busse, W. W., Bochner, B. S., O’Hehir, R. E., Holgate, S. T., Lemanske, R. F. (2014). 28. In Middleton’s Allergy: Principles and Practice (8th ed.). W B Saunders Company. (Retrieved April 24 2017)
 Lockey, R. F., Bukantz, S. C., & Bousquet, J. (2004). Mite Allergens. In Allergens and Allergen Immunotherapy. New York: Marcel Dekker. (Retrieved April 24 2017)
Home Remedies for Allergies — Natural Allergy Relief
When you have bad allergies, it can feel like there’s no way to escape them, and allergies are not just a problem for a few weeks in the spring. Fall can bring sniffle-inducing pollen and weeds too. But sometimes, just a few small changes to your routine can bring symptom relief without any medication.
“I think many people feel like making lifestyle changes can be really hard so I love to approach these in a step-wise fashion with patients—no detoxes or cleanses necessary,” says Kara Wada, M.D., allergist/immunologist at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.
Before you try any allergy relief, solutions, though, it’s important to get tested. If you don’t know what you’re really allergic to, there’s really no way to guarantee anything will give you relief. “With allergies, your body is having an exaggerated response to something that should be harmless so it’s really important to know your trigger,” says Lakiea Wright, M. D., M.P.H., board-certified allergist and associate physician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Different types of skin and blood testing are available, depending on your symptoms and medical history. “Getting allergy testing helps you recognize your triggers and learn what specific techniques may be most useful and worthy of your time, energy and money,” adds Dr. Wada.
Allergy home remedies that work
Here’s what to do once you’re armed with info:
It’s impossible to control the weather (and you can’t stay inside forever!) so it can be especially tricky dealing with a pollen allergy. Dr. Wright suggests limiting your outdoor activity during times of the day when pollen counts tend to be high (typically dawn and dusk) and using a smartphone app to track levels. On top of that, a face mask might help. In fact, 30% of people in a recent study said their seasonal allergies improved when they wore a surgical face mask outside, and that number improved to 40% when they wore an N95 mask. When you go indoors, Dr. Wright recommends taking a shower and changing your clothes to remove any pollen that might be stuck to you—and keeping windows closed so pollen doesn’t come inside.
“The literature does suggest—based on a small number of studies—that acupuncture may have a modest benefit for some patients with allergic rhinitis or hay fever symptoms,” says Dr. Wright. “There needs to be additional larger studies, but the thought is that acupuncture can help increase blood flow and if you have nasal congestion from your allergen exposures, then promoting blood flow in that area could help to improve your symptoms.” Essentially, it’s a practice that can’t hurt and has potential to help, so it’s worth a shot if you’re struggling.
Rinse nasal passages
“Sinus saline rinses such can increase mucous clearance by about 30% which can be very helpful at flushing out allergens,” says Dr. Wada. A neti pot can be a great way to get the job done, and rinsing may also help reduce inflammation and swelling. “I fully support nasal irrigation, but one caveat is if you’re using medications like nasal steroids, you want to make sure you rinse before you put in the medication because you don’t want to rinse the medication away,” notes Dr. Wright.
Cool down your eyes
Similar to nasal irrigation, artificial tears can help wash allergens out of watery, itchy eyes, but Dr. Wright recommends taking things a step further and keeping the bottle in your fridge. “That way it’s a little cool when you put it in your eyes, which helps to calm down those allergy cells that are firing off,” she explains. If you’d rather not use eye drops, she says a cold compress can also help.
Eat a healthful diet
If you haven’t already, now might be time to switch to a plant-forward, anti-inflammatory eating style. That’s because research shows your immune system needs a variety of micronutrients to perform at its best and things like excess sugar and processed foods can increase inflammation and throw things off kilter. “Eating a balanced diet and eating the whole rainbow of foods, we know is good for your immune system in general,” says Dr. Wright. “We just don’t have the evidence specifically for allergies.”
Make adjustments at home
If indoor allergies are getting you down, a few tweaks to your home environment can make a huge difference. To start, Dr. Wright recommends placing HEPA filters throughout your house. “They help filter out some of the allergens like dust mites and pet dander from the air,” she says. Along those same lines, dehumidifiers can help remove moisture from the air in damp areas like basements and prevent the growth of allergens like mold. You’ll probably have to do some extra cleaning, too. “If you have carpets or rugs, you want to vacuum weekly,” advises Dr. Wright. “You also want to wash your bedding weekly in hot water and dry it in high heat because that will kill off dust mites. Another thing my patients don’t realize is the mattress can be a harbor for those dust mites so you really want to change out that mattress about every seven years. ” She says encasing your mattress and pillows in allergen-proof covers can also help. Lastly, if you’re allergic to your pet, Dr. Wright recommends bathing them weekly to decrease their dander.
Without enough water, the human body struggles to function, and some animal studies suggest that dehydration can lead to an increase in histamines in the body—which there’s already an excess of during an allergic reaction. “Staying hydrated is good in general for your health, but when it comes to allergies, if you are taking antihistamines, those can also dry you out,” says Dr. Wright. “So you definitely want to stay on top of your water intake and make sure you stay hydrated.”
For some people, yoga is their go-to stress-reliever. For others, it’s reading, doing jigsaw puzzles, or talking to a therapist. Find what works for you and, as hard as it may be with everything going on, do your best to carve out time for it. Studies show that stress can exacerbate allergic reactions so the more you can minimize what’s going on in your body, the better you may be.
Natural solutions that don’t work
Not every home remedy you hear about is a home run. These often-touted natural solutions don’t have the research to back up their use.
- Honey: “Local honey may be delicious but does not contain enough of the correct types of pollen to have any effect close to that of immunotherapy,” says Dr. Wada.
- Essential oils: “There’s no evidence to suggest that essential oils can be beneficial to improving your allergies,” says Dr. Wright. In fact, she says the strong scents can actually worsen allergy symptoms in people whose nasal passages are overreactive.
- Supplements: “I don’t routinely recommend herbal or homeopathic supplements to treat allergies,” says Dr. Wada. “The data doesn’t support their use and since they are unregulated it is impossible to know if what is listed on the bottle is actually what is in the bottle. ”
When to see an allergist
If home remedies don’t seem to alleviate your allergy symptoms, there’s no reason to continue suffering. Schedule an appointment with an allergist to discuss medical solutions. “I think it is really helpful to find an allergist that you can partner within your care and letting him/her know your goals of care,” says Dr. Wada. “Education and information can be incredibly empowering and meeting with an allergy expert is going to help you understand all the options available to treat your symptoms.” For instance, immunotherapy in the form of allergy shots, drops, or tablets that contain regimented doses of specific allergens could provide long-lasting relief. “Over time, the body learns to ignore these triggers rather than fight them,” explains Dr. Wada.
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Kaitlyn started her career as a reporter in the research department at Real Simple and went on to become a health editor at Family Circle before joining the Hearst team.
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90,000 Immunity and allergies – how are they related?
Each of us has probably heard that allergic reactions directly depend on the state of the immune system. But how do immune disorders cause allergies?
What is immunity?
Immunity (from Latin immunitas, which means “liberation” or getting rid of something) is the body’s immunity and resistance to infections, as well as to the effects of foreign substances that have toxic properties.
Immunity is divided into congenital and acquired.
- Congenital, or nonspecific, immunity is due to the physiological and anatomical features of the body, hereditarily fixed at the cellular or molecular level. This type of immunity includes properties such as the immunity of all people to canine distemper or the immunity of some to tuberculosis.
- Acquired immunity occurs after exposure to an infection or foreign protein.It is divided into active and passive.
- Active acquired immunity develops after a previous illness or after the introduction of a vaccine. That is, after contact with the causative agent of the disease.
- Passive acquired immunity is associated with the intake of ready-made antibodies into the body. Antibodies, or immunoglobulins, are specific substances that can be produced by cells of the immune system and are designed to neutralize infectious bodies and toxic waste products.But antibodies can enter the body from the outside in the form of serum, as well as when they are transferred with mother’s milk or in utero.
What is included in our immune system?
The immune system includes two types of defense: cellular and humoral. The cell type is immunocompetent cells (for example, T-lymphocytes), which are responsible for the destruction of foreign infectious microorganisms that enter our body. The humoral type combines immunocompetent cells (for example, B-lymphocytes) that produce specific antibodies to fight infection and toxic foreign molecules.
Organs of the immune system
The organs of the immune system are divided into central and peripheral.
- – Red bone marrow is the central organ of hematopoiesis and the production of cells of the immune system. It is located in flat and tubular bones.
- The thymus, or thymus gland, is the central organ of the immune system, in which the final maturation of T-lymphocytes from the precursors that come from the red bone marrow takes place.
- Lymph nodes are peripheral organs of the immune system located along the lymphatic vessels. They are involved in both the mechanisms of humoral (B-type) and cellular (T-type) immunity, including the development of allergic reactions.
- The spleen is the largest organ of the immune system. It also participates in T- and B-immunity, and also ensures the conversion of monocytes into macrophages.
How are immunity and allergies interrelated?
Allergy is a hypersensitivity of the immune system that occurs when the allergen is repeatedly exposed to the body.To date, 5 types of reactions of such hypersensitivity have been described. But only one of them is called allergy, due to the production and effect of immunoglobulin E in response to the ingestion of foreign proteins into the body.
Allergy is characterized by excessive activity of mast cells, which translates into a general inflammatory response. It can also lead to various benign symptoms:
- runny nose;
- itchy skin;
- sneezing and coughing.
90,013 cuts in the eyes;
In addition, severe reactions can lead to life-threatening conditions such as anaphylactic shock or Quincke’s edema.
A distinction should be made between allergies and autoimmune reactions. An autoimmune process occurs when defense mechanisms begin to attack the cells of the body’s own tissues. Allergy is always a reaction to foreign compounds.
Why does allergy develop?
Numerous studies indicate a hereditary predisposition to allergies.A child whose parents suffer from this pathology is at a greater risk of allergies than children from healthy couples.
The theory of the influence of hygiene states that compliance with hygiene standards prevents the body from contacting many pathological microorganisms and toxic substances. This leads to an insufficient load on the immune system, especially in children. Our body is designed in such a way that it must constantly withstand a certain level of threats and external intrusions. And if such a constant “training” and maintenance of the tone of the immune system does not occur, then it begins to react more and more pronouncedly to completely harmless substances.
Statistics show that various immunological diseases in third world countries are much less common than in developed countries. Moreover, the more time passes from the moment of immigration, the more often immigrants from developing countries suffer from immune disorders. And with the growth of well-being, and, accordingly, cleanliness and compliance with hygiene standards in the country, the number of cases of allergies among its population increases.
The theory of increased consumption of chemical products is also supported by scientific research. Many chemical products themselves can be quite strong allergens. In addition, they often create the prerequisites for the occurrence of allergic reactions, since they can disrupt the functions of the endocrine and nervous systems.
However, there is no unequivocal explanation as to why the same factors act on some people and not on others. One thing can be said with certainty: a healthy lifestyle, proper balanced nutrition, giving up bad habits and taking care of your own body will be an excellent help to prevent the development of allergies.
How to distinguish acute respiratory infections from allergies
Autumn is the time of more frequent colds and seasonal allergies. Often a person who starts sneezing and coughing does not know what it is connected with – with acute respiratory infections or with allergies? We tried to make a little cheat sheet on how to understand what you are suffering from.
ARI is an acute respiratory illness. A general definition that includes any upper respiratory tract infection with “cold” symptoms. The cause of acute respiratory infections can be bacteria, viruses, fungi and protozoa.
|Runny nose, sneezing, nasal congestion||ν||ν|
|Itchy eyes and watery eyes||ν||ν|
|Decreased concentration of attention||ν|
|Swelling of the lips||ν|
|Ears congestion and itching||ν|
|General weakness, malaise||ν|
Allergies are always non-infectious. An allergic reaction is usually chronologically related to the allergen.
A good test is to take an antihistamine, if you are allergic the symptoms will go away. And with acute respiratory infections, an antihistamine will not help.
Allergens can make you feel worse in the fall:
- pollen of weeds that still bloom in September;
- mold fungi spores;
- house dust mites.
You can guess why you are allergic by indirect signs:
- If the allergen is pollen, then the day after the rain, the person will feel much better than before the rain;
- if the allergen is fungal mold, then, on the contrary, it will be much better before the rain than after it;
- If the allergen is house dust or mites, then the most pronounced symptoms will be observed while staying indoors, with significant improvement in the fresh air.
To finally understand the causes of allergies, it is necessary to undergo a special allergological examination. If your problem is an allergy, remember that you need to seek medical help not only at the time of an exacerbation of the disease, but also during the period of remission. It is at this time that real help can be provided – nonspecific and specific hyposensitization. In addition to drug therapy prescribed by a specialist, change your lifestyle – take a walk every day, do breathing exercises, fitness, yoga or dancing, do not smoke, get enough sleep and enjoy every day.
Today is World Allergy Day
Since 2005, WHO (World Health Organization) celebrates World Allergy Day on 8 July. On this day, activists draw the attention of society to the problem of the high incidence of allergies. According to statistics, a third of adults in Russia and a quarter of children suffer from allergies. The disease is more common in large cities and industrial centers.
Allergies can be caused by mites, insects, pollen, preservatives, food dyes, pharmaceuticals, animals, industrial emissions. Antihistamines are used to counteract the process.
The disease provokes headaches, insomnia, memory and cognitive decline. The endocrine and nervous systems suffer from it.
How urgent is the problem of allergy for our region, and how not to confuse its symptoms with other dangerous diseases – says the doctor allergist-immunologist, Ph.D. Natalia Kutenkova.
Allergies are extremely widespread throughout the world, Kuzbass is no exception.We add industrial allergens to traditional allergens (coal dust, emissions from chemical and metallurgical industries). The most severe consequence of systematic exposure to allergens is bronchial asthma.
It is believed that every person has an allergic reaction at least once in their life. Now quite often – in children. Parents can skip the onset of the disease, as the allergy is “massaged” under colds, intestinal infections, and immunodeficiency states.Also, recently, parents often mistake allergies for coronavirus symptoms.
Allergy is a strong reaction of a cell of the immune system. In another way, it is called “strange reaction”. For example, you are presented with a beautiful bouquet, a cute kitten or a basket of ripe berries, but instead of rejoicing, you cry. There is lacrimation, itching of the eyes, nose, sneezing. The person does not feel well. It is important at the first symptoms to consult a local doctor so that he correctly diagnoses and starts treatment on time.
Allergy manifests itself in different ways at different age periods. In young children, it is more often a rash on the body. In children of primary school age and adolescence – respiratory manifestations. Allergic rhinitis is typical, which is manifested by swelling of the nasal mucous membranes, itching, lacrimation, and sneezing attacks. Possible debut of bronchial asthma with shortness of breath, paroxysmal cough, wheezing, poor exercise tolerance.
Some types of allergies are highly curable.For example, food allergy in young infants is considered to be the most common manifestation. Mostly for milk. If we completely exclude contact with the allergen, food allergies disappear in the vast majority of children by the age of 3. Pollinosis also responds well to treatment. There is mono therapy, which within 1-3, maximum – 5 years can give a complete radical cure for the disease. In this case, the allergen is used from the pollen that causes the allergic reaction.
Now, especially in such dry and hot weather, which is established in Kuzbass, there is a sharp exacerbation of hay fever caused by the flowering of cereal grasses.In 2-3 weeks the weed flowering season will begin. People who suffer from the pollen of these plants are advised to avoid going out into nature, wash their face more often, rinse their nose and, if possible, wear a medical mask.
Also hot weather can provoke sun allergies. This type of disease is becoming more common. It has a temporary character, occurs at the beginning of summer, and disappears on its own within 2-3 weeks. In some people, it can persist throughout the summer. Another non-standard reaction to the sun is photo-dermatitis, it is caused, as a rule, by drugs that a person takes, they increase the sensitivity of the skin to solar radiation. It manifests itself locally on open areas of the body in the form of redness, rashes, itching and peeling of the skin, blisters.
Quinck’s edema is mostly caused by parasitic diseases. Therefore, it is necessary to be regularly examined for the presence of helminthic invasions. But the body can give such a reaction to any allergen, from medicines to house dust and animal hair.
Doctors refer to the “strange” types of allergies as a painful reaction of the body to strong odors: perfume, household chemicals, aerosols. All this is a sign of bronchial hypersensitivity. And in this case, it is necessary to consult an allergist to exclude the first signs of the onset of bronchial asthma.
Theoretically, any person can be allergic to any substance. The disease is not fatal. The sooner you see a doctor, the faster you can expect a complete cure or a lasting positive effect of therapy.
Be healthy, take care of yourself and your loved ones!
How to survive in any situation
Since ancient times, allergies have greatly impaired the quality of life of people. One of its varieties – hay fever (allergic conjunctivitis and (or) rhinitis), increased sensitivity to pollen – is associated with seasonal flowering of plants. In 2018, more than 313 thousand cases of hay fever were diagnosed in Russia, which is about 213 patients per 100 thousand of the population¹.
Seasonal allergies usually begin in childhood, but can also occur in older people.And now, against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, allergic symptoms can cause fear and confusion, since in the initial stages the disease can resemble hay fever, despite the absence of a runny nose.
How different are the symptoms of hay fever and infectious diseases? When to wait for seasonal allergies to start? How to protect yourself during this period in conditions of self-isolation? Answering these questions will help allergy sufferers feel more confident.
Pollinosis is a seasonal disease in which the mucous membranes become inflamed because they are exposed to causally significant allergens, in this case the pollen of wind-pollinated plants.An allergic reaction occurs only in a previously sensitized organism. Upon local contact, allergen molecules bind to antibody molecules and trigger the activation of mast cells, thereby releasing inflammatory mediators. One of these mediators, histamine, plays an important role in the allergic process. It acts on the cellular structures of the mucous membrane, increasing the excitability of nerve endings and increasing the permeability of the vessel walls. This leads to swelling, increased mucus production, smooth muscle spasm and mucosal damage².
Runny nose and nasal congestion
Itching in the nose
Lachrymation, conjunctival edema and itching of the eyes
Cough associated with postnasal syndrome
“Summer cold”, fever is a rare symptom for seasonal allergies, and one of the main ones for COVID-19. In some cases, fatigue and headache may appear behind the main symptoms.Pollinosis can be combined with other allergic diseases, and also lead to bronchial asthma³.
Pollinosis is associated with seasonal plant activity, so the symptoms of the disease appear every year at almost the same time.
April – end of May
Alder, birch, poplar, oak bloom
June – mid-July
Cereals begin to bloom: rye and wheat 905
9000 the beginning of autumn
The time comes for the blooming of wormwood, ragweed, nettle and other weeds and meadow grasses⁴.
According to various sources, about 10% of children and 20% of adults suffer from hay fever 4.5 . About a quarter of Russians (26%) have experienced an allergy to flowering plants 5 .
The highest prevalence of allergies in Russia
The number of patients per 100 thousand population
allergen from the Aster family 1 .
The similarity of symptoms of seasonal allergy with ARVI is a factor due to which patients delay seeking professional medical help. The signs of pathologies are very similar: nasal discharge, sneezing, coughing, watery eyes.
With ARVI, the body temperature rises, with hay fever – no.
A characteristic symptom of hay fever is conjunctivitis, with ARVI it does not appear.
The onset of ARVI is sporadic (irregular), while exacerbations of seasonal allergic rhinitis occur at certain times of the year.
With seasonal allergies, nasal discharge is watery and abundant, with ARVI they gradually turn yellow or greenish, purulent.
But if earlier allergy sufferers attributed the symptoms to ordinary acute respiratory viral infections, then against the background of COVID-19 it can be quite difficult to keep calm.
COVID-19 is a disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which is transmitted by airborne droplets and causes damage to the upper respiratory tract. The risk group for a severe course of the disease includes people over 60 years of age and patients with chronic cardiovascular diseases, respiratory diseases and diabetes⁸.
The COVID-19 spread coincided with the spring bloom season, which can confuse allergy sufferers. Pain in the eyes and nasal congestion are symptoms that appear with both coronavirus infection and hay fever⁹. However, the breathing problems and coughs in coronavirus and seasonal flare-ups of allergies are different.
Complete loss or loss of smell is more characteristic of coronavirus¹¹ than allergies².
Temperatures above 37.5 ° C, one of the symptoms of coronavirus infection, are not characteristic of hay fever.
But conjunctivitis is a typical manifestation of spring hay fever³.
An important point: with hay fever, sensitization is diagnosed – hypersensitivity to an allergen, which, of course, has no place in the pathogenesis of COVID-19. Sensitization is determined by skin testing or an increased level of specific immunoglobulin E (IgE) in the blood.
Allergy screening may include skin scarification tests, prick tests or challenge tests11.A cytological examination of sputum, blood or nasal secretions may be prescribed for an increase in the number of eosinophils¹².
An allergy test can be done without leaving your home – just call a doctor from the clinic that provides allergen testing services.
An ideal option during an exacerbation of pollinosis is a temporary change of place of residence. But not everyone has this opportunity, and besides, it is unacceptable during home quarantine. How to relieve symptoms of hay fever and improve your condition on your own if going outside for medical help during the flowering period and the COVID-19 pandemic is a doubly bad idea?
Limit contact with the allergen and do not go outside unless absolutely necessary (wear a medical mask and glasses if you do go out) 2
Avoid contact with substances that can cause cross-allergies, including some products food, vegetable-based cosmetics 2
Take medications that alleviate the course of allergies;
Close windows during the day, ventilate the room at night or after rain, when the concentration of pollen in the air is minimal 2
Install a ventilation system with a fine filter (for example, a HEPA filter) 2, 14
Take a shower more often and take a shower wet cleaning (you can use a vacuum cleaner with a protective HEPA filter) 2, 14
If you know your allergen, allergen-specific immunotherapy (ASIT) can alleviate your condition. The essence of the procedure is that a causal allergen is injected into the patient’s body under the supervision of a doctor strictly in therapeutic doses and according to a clear schedule. So the adaptive potential of a person increases, tolerance to the allergen arises, and the body stops responding to it.
And if the peak of activity of your allergen is the second or third wave of hay fever (June-July and August-September), it is worth discussing with the allergist the expediency of conducting an accelerated, or lightning-fast, ASIT course already this season¹⁶.
Seek professional medical attention if you have a fever and a dry cough accompanied by shortness of breath, pain or a feeling of congestion in the chest, speech or movement problems¹⁰. And also if you are seeing allergy symptoms for the first time. In this case, it would be wise to get tested.
It is necessary to follow the instructions of an allergist, especially if, in addition to hay fever, you have been diagnosed with a coronavirus infection. The infectious disease doctor must be informed about the presence of an allergy so that he can adjust the treatment.
Another important point is that allergic patients in the period of seasonal exacerbation cough and sneeze more and more often than an ordinary person, and if they turn out to be carriers of asymptomatic COVID-19, this can lead to a wider spread of the virus. If you suspect that you are ill, in any case, call the doctor at home, and do not go to the clinic. This will reduce the risk of spreading a possible infection and your own infection.
Text: Tatiana Guncheva
Illustrations: Nina Magradze
How to protect a house from pollen
Previously, during the dusting season, it was possible to leave for another region where the flowering of allergy provocateurs has ended or has not yet begun. During the period of self-isolation, this is problematic. However, you can create favorable conditions for allergy sufferers at home.
Photo: New Africa / shutterstock
What is good for an ordinary person is bad for an allergic person.If many were looking forward to the onset of summer, then for a person suffering from allergies, May-June are the most dangerous months. Everything blooms, pollen flies, allergies intensify. It is quite difficult to avoid spring exacerbations.
Previously, for example, during the dusting season it was possible to leave for another region where the blooming of acute allergy provocateurs has ended or has not yet begun. During the period of self-isolation, this is problematic. However, you can create special conditions at home. Together with a doctor and an environmental expert, we will tell you how to do it.
Yes – wet cleaning, no – dust collectors
The first thing a person with an allergy should do is to find out what exactly they are allergic to. The main sources of allergies in the house are dust mites, household chemicals, mold, pet hair, substances contained in poor-quality building materials, indoor flowers and plant pollen that is brought in from the street.
Based on the knowledge of what exactly a person has an allergic reaction to, we can talk about specific rules and recommendations.
General rules that every person prone to allergies should know about:
- Ventilate the room regularly;
- Install an air purification system;
- Carry out wet cleaning at least twice a week;
- Look for eco-labels on goods and furniture;
- Conduct a general indoor air analysis on a regular basis;
- Use environmentally friendly materials for repairs;
- monitor the condition of indoor plants;
- Do not choose porous furnishings.
In the house where the allergic person lives, it is necessary to create such conditions that the dust has no chance of accumulation. To do this, you need to get rid of the dust collectors. No carpets or carpet, says the doctor. This is the main enemy of an allergy sufferer, otherwise the carpet will have to be cleaned twice a day, and wet cleaning.
For allergy sufferers, a clean room is the key to good health. Therefore, it is recommended to carry out wet cleaning two to three times a week; during the flowering period, it is better to do this every day, preventing pollen from settling on the floor. Moreover, wet cleaning is preferable to cleaning with a vacuum cleaner, otherwise the vacuum cleaner must have a HEPA filter, said Andrey Kondrakhin, candidate of medical sciences, general practitioner, clinical pharmacologist.
Photo: Dmytro Zinkevych / shutterstock
When cleaning a room, it is important to pay attention to the composition of disinfectants and household chemicals – they can also cause allergies and irritation of mucous membranes.Products with fragrances, fragrances and chlorine are especially dangerous.
“Normal water is enough to remove dust. If we are talking about general cleaning of the room, then hypoallergenic cleaning products for the house must be used. When cleaning, it is better to work with gloves and a mask. Laundry soap or soda can be used as an alternative to household chemicals, ”noted the doctor.
Particular attention should be paid to the bathroom and toilet – fungus usually accumulates here, which can cause a strong allergic reaction.Therefore, it is recommended to treat the surfaces of these rooms with antifungal agents, paying special attention to the corners.
Furniture and textiles without down and feathers
In addition to carpets and floor coverings, furniture and interior items play a huge role in the life of an allergy sufferer. “Any porous objects (upholstered furniture, curtains, carpets, bedspreads, pillows), as well as books and magazines accumulate dust, suspended particles, pollen and other allergens. Therefore, in the apartment of a person suffering from allergies, there should be as few such items as possible, ”said Sergey Sysoev, head of the department of independent environmental expertise of EcoStandard Group.
The number of textiles in the interior should be minimized; velvet, plush, corduroy and tweed should be excluded. Fillers for furniture, blankets, pillows and mattresses are best used from synthetic hypoallergenic materials, since dust mites settle in natural fillers (down, feathers, cotton wool), which provoke exacerbations in allergy sufferers.
It is better to choose bed linen from natural fabrics – cotton and linen, since the concentration of allergens in this case is low. It must be washed at a high temperature – above 60 degrees.
Photo: fizkes / shutterstock
It is also worth getting rid of old furniture. Sometimes, in its production, glue containing formaldehyde was used, which is dangerous for humans, especially for an allergy sufferer. The more chemical, artificial things are in the environment, the more the allergy manifests itself. Therefore, it is better to choose furniture and interior items made from natural materials – metal, wood. The latter is able to pick up excess moisture and humidify the room if necessary.
“Furniture made entirely of wood, bamboo, rattan, as well as upholstered furniture with natural leather or fabric upholstery can be considered environmentally friendly.The main safety condition is the absence of formaldehyde or other harmful substances in the composition, ”the ecologist added.
One of the pillars of allergy sufferers is the microclimate in the apartment. It is important to observe its optimal parameters: relative humidity in the range of 30–45%, temperature – 20–22 degrees. It is better to install devices that will help create a comfortable microclimate. These include humidifiers (humidify the air) and air purifiers with ionizers (pump and purify the air plus ionize).
“These devices are good for any person, and even more so for an allergy sufferer. Often an allergic person has an inflammatory reaction in the bronchi and dry mucous membranes. Thanks to the humidifier, pollen will fall on the floor, the air will become safe and humidified, ”noted Andrey Kondrakhin.
Air conditioners are also suitable, but with anti-allergenic and antibacterial filters. Some split systems have additional options – an air ionizer, a humidifying system, filters against allergens.Therefore, before installing air conditioners, you need to carefully study the annotation to them.
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Windows are recommended to be equipped with micro-ventilation with special anti-pollen filters. With them, fresh air from the street without pollen will enter the house. In the house of an allergic person, you can install a breather – a supply purifier for ventilation of any room with heating and air purification. It filters the air from the street from pollution and sends it into the room, thus ventilating it.
The robot vacuum cleaner will make life easier for allergy sufferers. He can carry out wet cleaning on his own, making his way to the farthest corners of the rooms and ridding them of dust.
“It is very important to carry out regular preventive maintenance of climatic equipment – this is cleaning and subsequent disinfection of internal surfaces and parts,” Sergei Sysoev pointed out.
“Forewarned is forearmed” is another rule of allergy sufferers. Special interactive maps (for example, pollen.club and gismeteo) help to follow it, which show how pollen migrates around the planet and what its level is in a certain area. This makes it possible for an allergy sufferer to prepare and establish an anti-allergenic life. Now, for example, the pollen level in Moscow is estimated at four points (mainly due to the flowering of birch trees), which is an average value.
“These services provide allergy sufferers with information about the dangerous allergenic pollen in the air and the risks they face. They can track where and what blooms, understand what awaits them in the near future, and get ready. Such cards are available in mobile applications, which is very convenient. These services should be used when traveling on vacation to other regions and countries, ”said the doctor.
Photo: Subbotina Anna / shutterstock
Animals, plants and allergies
Allergies can be caused by any pet – even fish in an aquarium, namely, their food. It usually contains small shellfish that can provoke severe allergies. It so happens that one breed of dog leads to allergies, while the other does not. Therefore, it is quite difficult to determine exactly whether an allergic person can live in an apartment with an animal, the doctor said. Therefore, before you start a cat, dog or hamster, it is better to consult a doctor and think things over.
Houseplants are also worth keeping an eye on. “On the one hand, the presence of indoor plants means an increase in oxygen concentration and aesthetic beauty.But at the same time, various microorganisms can develop on the soil or underlying substrate, which subsequently provoke allergic reactions, ”the ecologist explained.
If you plan to make repairs in the apartment where the allergic person lives, it is recommended to use ecological materials. The repair itself during the exacerbation period (June-May) experts do not advise starting, it is better to postpone it to the fall, when the batteries are still disconnected – in the heat, the concentration of substances increases, which can cause a reaction.
Before that, you can get rid of old linoleum, polymer-coated wallpaper, plastic wall panels. It is better not to use lime whitewash, as lime is an allergen.
“When choosing building materials, you must remember that low-quality and cheap materials can often contain harmful substances that adversely affect our health, including causing allergic reactions,” explained Sergei Sysoev.
Photo: Photographee.eu / shutterstock
For the floor, you should choose natural boards, ceramic tiles or linoleum of eco-friendly brands, laminate with high water-repellent characteristics. It should be borne in mind that the floor will have to be washed frequently, so the material must be moisture resistant.
For ceilings and walls, water-based paint applied to putty or paintable wallpaper, paper wallpaper or wood paneling is suitable.Materials with a complex chemical composition are best avoided.
“In my practice, there was a family who bought an apartment, made repairs in it, but could not move in. The wife developed a strong allergy to the composition that was used when gluing the wallpaper – its concentration lasts up to ten years. I had to undergo therapy. Fortunately, the treatment helped, ”Andrei Kondrakhin said.
The main thing during an exacerbation of allergies is not to panic, follow the general rules for keeping the house, remember to take seasonal medications, rinse the mucous membranes (nose, eyes) more often and take a shower.If there is a deterioration in the condition and the usual actions do not help, do not delay and consult a doctor.
What helps with allergies and how to treat it
I didn’t have time to stay behind the next season of colds, and there was a new attack ahead. Every spring, millions of Russians sadly prepare for it, who have to suffer from allergies to plant pollen.At the sight of these torments, those who do not have such symptoms thank fate. But they are also strongly advised by medical professionals to be attentive to the signals of the body. Before the start of the nightmare two months of reddened eyes, swollen noses and unrestrained sneezing, Znak.com (in our editorial office, of course, there are also allergy sufferers) prepared answers to questions that are most often asked by doctors.
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Why do I have allergies every spring?
An allergy is an increased sensitivity of the body to an irritant called an allergen, causing a painful condition. There are a lot of potential allergens, as well as possible reactions to them in different people under different circumstances. Therefore, allergy is called an individual disease. Someone begins to scratch furiously, having inadvertently consumed only one strawberry, someone is categorically contraindicated in close contact with cats, and still others are generally afraid to literally go out into the light.
The reaction to pollen from flowering plants – hay fever – is one of the most common allergic reactions. The variety of plants gives rise to the variety of allergens in the air.As well as their number, as well as the duration of this whole nightmare for allergy sufferers: first, birch dust, then bird cherry and lilac, then herbs come into play. And there comes the turn of poplars with their fluff (although the allergy is actually caused not by the fluff itself, but by the pollen of cereal grasses, which is carried along with the ubiquitous fluff). Therefore, in the spring and in the first half of summer, literally at every step you will meet an unfortunate person with characteristic symptoms. Actually, this explains the nature of what we call the season of allergic reactions.
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Is it true that allergies cannot be cured? And what will happen if it is not treated?
The opinion that treating allergies is useless is indeed quite widespread. According to skeptics, all the so-called treatment supposedly boils down to identifying the source of the body’s inadequate reaction – that is, the very allergen or a group of allergens – and then just try not to come into contact with it if possible. For example, do not eat carrots and apples if they make you itchy and red.Do not bring home branches of blooming bird cherry or lilac if you begin to choke from one of them. If a meeting with an irritant could not be avoided, a first-aid kit is used, which should be at hand for everyone who is really poisoned by allergies, especially with the onset of the “high season”. As a rule, we are talking about drugs of the antihistamine group. After all, histamine is the substance that the body secretes during the immune response to the ingress of an allergen, but which, unfortunately, causes most of the unpleasant symptoms of allergy.
At the same time, doctors advise not to forget that the body’s allergic reactions can become more severe and at the same time more varied. Yesterday, as usual, your eyes were watering, and in the morning you woke up with acute coryza. After some time, everything generally turned into bronchial asthma – it is not for nothing that doctors say that allergies “descend” into the body. God forbid one day to get anaphylactic shock – the most acute reaction, fraught with death. The weighting of the form can also be supplemented by polysensitization, that is, the appearance of a reaction not only, for example, to pollen, but also to house dust mites, to certain foods, to something else … Predict when and under what circumstances your body will begin to react to irritants are more acute, impossible.And you probably don’t want to check it out empirically.
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So, along with the obvious recommendation not to provoke your body once again and try to quickly block painful symptoms, it makes sense to also engage in allergen-specific immunotherapy (ASIT). This is a rather long – on average from three to five years – course of treatment, during which the patient is vaccinated with increasing doses of “his” antigen, thereby increasing the body’s ability to resist allergies.Doctors say that the ASIT course may well save the patient from severe reactions and even lead to the complete elimination of hypersensitivity. And here it is important to understand that the course of treatment will be the easier, shorter and, importantly, cheaper, the fewer antigens that cause allergies. So again, we conclude – there is no need to start the disease.
What is the best treatment?
ASIT is considered the only method today that can change the body’s attitude to the allergen and prevent the further development of allergies.Despite the fact that the method has been used all over the world for a long time, it remains the most modern and most effective. Let’s anticipate the next question and give a straightforward answer: yes, domestic drugs used in ASIT are inferior to imported ones, so the purchase of French or Italian vaccines is worth it.
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There are other methods of therapy: pill (using tablets) and sublingual (drops under the tongue). This variability of treatment methods allows the doctor and the patient to determine the most suitable option not only in terms of cost, but also in terms of the physical availability of medical care.Unfortunately, allergists-immunologists are not found in every city polyclinic, let alone a district hospital or a rural outpatient clinic.
Alternative methods of treatment
At least every second medical center today, along with conventional therapy, will also offer non-traditional methods, including allergies. Doctors who deal with the problem seriously take this venture simply: if you feel that it helps you, yes to your health! Indeed, there are people who have been shown, for example, a hypoallergenic diet for years.Firstly, it is clear that it completely excludes some products that cause an inadequate reaction of the body. Secondly, a hypoallergenic diet, in principle, allows you to reduce the allergenic load, even if you do not have a pronounced reaction to eating something, and you start sneezing and itching from pollen or house dust.
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Allergists and immunologists are also loyal to various massages and acupuncture. Especially if the masters of these procedures honestly warn that they will not be able to relieve you of allergies, but they can easily get rid of the thrill during the allergy season.The same acupuncture relieves an attack of suffocation, relieves the symptoms of atopic dermatitis – one of the most annoying and unaesthetic allergic reactions.
All these procedures will help you while you are going through them, and for many people they really become a real salvation. But it is important to understand that until the opposite is proven, one should not expect serious results from alternative methods in therapy.
Can an allergy go away on its own? Or am I suffering like this all my life?
We repeat, everyone has their own allergy, its manifestation is individual, depending on different conditions.There is some possibility that over the years your body will no longer react painfully to one allergen or even to several allergens. But is it worth hoping for, given the above-mentioned severity of a neglected allergy? And is it necessary to suffer if you can not only remove unwanted symptoms, but also treat their cause?
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I don’t want to panic, but it’s still important to say: if you don’t have an allergy now, it’s not at all a fact that it will not be in the future, especially if you live in a region with poor ecology.For example, among students of Chelyabinsk universities, about 27% of allergy sufferers were identified, and among the older generation of townspeople working in heavy industry enterprises, 46% suffer from allergies!
Therefore, regardless of the presence of characteristic symptoms, doctors advise you to listen to your body – does it give any specific signals that it makes sense to pay attention to and tell the doctor about it? This is important not only for the timely diagnosis of allergies. In some cases, the appearance in the body of antigens that cause an allergic reaction may indicate the development of other, possibly even more serious, diseases.
What is the punishment for us?
Allergy is considered a disease of the century: some sources claim that this or that type of allergic reactions occurs in 85% of all people living on Earth. Our doctors consider these figures to be overestimated, although they admit that over the past decades (and even years!), There have been more allergy sufferers. For example, studies in Chelyabinsk showed that even some five years ago the percentage of allergy sufferers did not reach 20, and today we can confidently say that there are no less than a quarter of the total number of all those with whom the doctors talked.
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Doctors agree that allergies can be called a disease of the urban population, and the last century has just become the century of urbanization, which has influenced the lifestyle and the environment in general. Lack of breastfeeding, abuse of antibiotics and other medications, which ultimately weaken the general immune abilities of the body; plus a large amount of all kinds of chemistry that surrounds us literally from birth – all this is included in the price we pay for living in cities.