Help for Allergies
Do you have a love-hate relationship with spring? Are you constantly trying to boil the dust mites out of your bedding? If so, you are probably among the 50 million (and growing) allergy warriors in the U.S. alone.
They constantly battle itchy, stuffy noses, sneezing, nasal drainage, watery, itchy eyes etc. Even the legendary singer-songwriter Paul Simon wrote a song about allergies. If you have allergies, take heart. Cleveland ENT, Physician Hearing Centers can help you find personalized treatment to help you live a great life with fewer allergy symptoms.
What are Allergies?
Allergies are a condition in which your immune system has become crazy sensitive, particularly to things that shouldn’t actually threaten your health. It’s the out-of-control immune response itself that becomes the threat.
A non-allergic immune system knows the difference between a virus and the proteins in grass pollen; so it will attack the virus and ignore the pollen. An allergic immune system however, treats the harmless grass pollen (or pet dander, mold spores, dust mites, ragweed pollen, etc.) as if it were a nefarious virus or bacteria. So in an attempt to rid your body of the invader, your immune system responds with a host of symptoms.
So who has allergies? Today, about 30% of adults and 40% of children have been diagnosed—which means that there are more allergies in store for future generations. Your chances are worse if one or both of your parents are allergic. Currently, there are no cures for allergies, but there are many allergy treatments that provide relief from the symptoms, and that can stop and prevent very serious allergic reactions.
Common Allergy Symptoms
- Sneezing—This is one of your immune system’s first responders when it comes to evicting invaders from your mucus membranes. You may think that your nose is the only thing involved in a sneeze, but actually, your entire upper respiratory system is activated. Nerves in your nose sense the foreigner and your brain triggers rapid signals that instantly shut your eyes, throat and mouth while contracting your chest muscles. Then suddenly, everything lets go in a burst of air, mucus and saliva (expelling the offending germs and allergens) that comes flying out of your nose and mouth at about 100 mph. Gesundheit!
- Congestion—A stuffy nose and clogged sinuses that make it hard to breathe are also parts of the immune response. When an allergen lands on the mucus membranes in your nose, your immune system pumps out antibodies. They call on mast cells to help combat the intruders. The mast cells release inflammatory histamine, a natural chemical that swells up your nasal passages. When your nasal passages are swollen, it’s harder to breathe and excess mucus can get backed up in the sinuses.
- Nasal Drainage—So you’re sneezing, you have congestion going on and your nose somehow manages to be runny. That’s because your mucus membranes are producing excess mucus to flush away the allergens. But if you have a really stuffy nose, that mucus can clog your sinuses, and it can also cause post nasal drip that slides down the back of your throat. This can give you a sore throat and a cough. With allergies, the fun just never ends!
- Itchy Nose and Eyes—Contact with specific allergens to which you are sensitive can also cause an itchy, tickling, irritating sensation in the nose and eyes (and even in the throat and on the skin too). This makes you want to rub and scratch, but don’t. It won’t stop the trouble, and can actually worsen the irritation, particularly when it comes to itchy eyes.
Taken together, this collection of symptoms is technically called “allergic rhinitis.”
Allergy Treatments & Solutions
There are several ways to combat allergy symptoms and research is always ongoing to find more:
- Avoidance—If you know your allergens, sometimes you can avoid them. If you are allergic to cats, stay away from them. If you have dust allergies, certain housekeeping techniques and furnishings can help.
- Medications—Antihistamines, corticosteroids, decongestants, leukotriene modifiers and cromolyn sodium are just a few options your ENT might recommend, depending on the type of allergies you suffer. Each goes about regulating the immune response or preventing allergic irritation in different ways.
- Immunotherapy—Allergy shots can help reprogram the immune systems of some individuals.
- Epinephrine—If you have allergies severe enough to cause anaphylaxis, your ENT will have you carry an EpiPen at all times so you can halt a dangerous allergic reaction (especially for people with severe allergies to bee stings, peanuts, etc.).
Even if you have severe allergies, there is no reason for you to let them run your life. With so many potential treatments and helps available to relieve the symptoms, you can live an active life in spite of them. Call Cleveland ENT, Physician Hearing Centers today to schedule an appointment for personalized allergy relief treatment.