The start of spring can be an exciting time as the weather gets warmer and plants start to bloom, but for many, spring also means allergy season. Aside from pollen, other common environmental allergens that often trigger allergic reactions include molds, animal dander, and cockroach antigen.
The immune system is designed to attack things that are dangerous, such as bacteria and viruses. An allergy is a merely a mistake in the immune system in which the immune system attacks something that is harmless, such as tree pollen. The immune system reacts inappropriately, causing inflammation, resulting in runny nose or itchy eyes, among other symptoms.
There are so many allergy medications available, how do you know which ones to take? Most mild allergies can be treated with an over-the-counter medication, but it’s important to get the right medication for your needs. Medications are not one-size-fits-all, and each one targets a different set of symptoms:
- Antihistamines – Best for sneezing, a runny nose or watery eyes.
- Decongestants – Offers quick or temporary relief of nasal and sinus congestion.
- Nasal Steroids (Corticosteroids) – Suppresses allergy-related inflammation, reducing nasal congestion and runny nose.
- Expectorants, such as guaifenesin – Help thin mucus, thereby reducing throat irritation, cough, throat clearing caused by thick post nasal drainage.
Using the wrong medication can actually make your symptoms worse. If you aren’t sure about what would be best for you, or if you are taking medication but still having problems, it may be time to see a specialist.
If you or someone you know has been experiencing common allergy symptoms and you aren’t sure what you’re allergic to, or if you’ve been taking medication and the symptoms don’t go away, it is important to get an allergy test. Allergy triggers can be obvious in some cases, but sometimes there can be multiple triggers, making it hard to identify what is causing your reaction.
Allergy specialists will administer the appropriate test to diagnose a patient’s condition and directly pinpoint what is triggering your symptoms, and create an individualized treatment plan. Allergy specialists are able to work with patients to create allergen avoidance measures, optimize medications, or administer aeroallergen immunotherapy – otherwise known as allergy injections.
Allergy injections are a great option for the right candidate because they actually address the root of the problem rather than masking symptoms. Simply speaking, allergy injections correct the mistake in the immune system so it no longer attacks things that are harmless. Over time, allergy injections can reduce the inflammation and symptoms caused by an allergy, and the need for medications can be reduced or eliminated.
Cone Health has an exceptional network of allergy and immunology specialists and other related healthcare providers dedicated to treating allergies and improving the quality of life of those who suffer from the condition.
Dr. Carter Bobbitt is an allergy and immunology specialist at the Allergy and Asthma Center of NC and member of the Cone Health Medical Group. Dr. Bobbitt graduated from University of Cincinnati College of Medicine in 1999. He completed his Internal Medicine residency at Exempla St. Joseph’s Hospital in Denver Colorado. His fellowship in Adult and Pediatric Allergy and Immunology was completed at the University of Cincinnati.