Take control of your allergies: Improve your life

Posted 4/1/21

With heavy pollen coating car windshields, it’s no wonder that allergies are a common complaint seen in doctors’ offices ...

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Take control of your allergies: Improve your life

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OKEECHOBEE -- With heavy pollen coating car windshields, it’s no wonder that allergies are a common complaint seen in doctors’ offices, especially seasonal allergies, during times of peak pollen exposure. As Florida residents, many of us find ourselves suffering from the unpleasant effects of allergies.  

Symptoms can range from a runny nose, post-nasal drip, itchy eyes, and even fatigue and irritability. Allergy symptoms are estimated to affect up to 30% of children and adults in the United States. Allergic rhinitis alone, a term used to describe the inflamed nasal passages seen in allergy suffers, is estimated to lead to 2 million lost school days and 6 million lost workdays annually. Untreated allergies can also lead to a host of cognitive and psychiatric issues in both school-age kids and adults including lower exam scores during peak pollen seasons, impaired concentration affecting work and athletic performance, and lower self-esteem.  

Allergy sufferers are associated with having increased anxiety, depression, and lower quality of life scores. 

Identifying allergy triggers and managing allergic symptoms is an important step in mitigating suffering for those with allergies. With an array of diagnostic and treatment options available it can be hard to know which way to turn. Obtaining an accurate allergy diagnosis coupled with optimum therapy is considered a precise medical art. Allergy shots have improved over the years and essentially retrain the immune system to ignore the allergen. Blood tests (RAST) for allergies are helpful in identifying the offending allergen, while skin prick testing is still considered the gold standard way of identifying allergens.  

From a pharmacologic therapy standpoint aimed at relieving allergy symptoms, older antihistamines like Benadryl (diphenhydramine) are very sedating for most people making them a less desirable option. Of the second-generation, “non-sedating” antihistamines such as: Zyrtec (cetirizine), Claritin (loratadine), and Allegra (fexofenadine), Allegra appears to be the best medicine in this class for its effectiveness and lack of sedating side effects.  

At times, antihistamines may not be enough to manage allergy symptoms. A prescription of short-term steroids can significantly improve allergy symptoms in many patients as it decreases the immune response and the systemic inflammation associated with an acute exacerbation in allergy symptoms. In addition, Sudafed (pseudoephedrine) can markedly improve symptoms of nasal congestion and is available by itself or in combination such as Allegra D, Claritin D and Zyrtec D. Of note though, patients with uncontrolled high blood pressure shouldn’t take the “D” formulation without first talking with their medical provider. Visit your Primary care provider or allergist today to find out how you can take control of your allergies and improve your life!  

Dr. Leland Heller, allergies

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