Allergies are the immune system’s response to allergens. When you come into contact with an allergen, the immune system releases an antibody known as Immunoglobulin E, which tells the cells to produce the chemical histamine. Histamine triggers inflammation, swelling, itching and all the other allergy symptoms you’re familiar with. Below we review the different options for treating allergies.
An allergy test can reveal exactly what allergens you’re reactive to. Once you have this information, you can start practicing avoidance. This could entail:
- Monitoring pollen counts and staying indoors with the windows closed when they’re high.
- Delegating outside chores to people without allergies, or hiring a professional landscaper.
- Showering and changing clothes right away after spending time outside.
- Bathing indoor/outdoor pets regularly.
- Not letting pets into your bedroom.
- Washing bedding in hot water weekly.
- Vacuuming and dusting regularly.
- Installing a portable high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter.
There are many different types of medications that can treat allergies, including:
- Allergy eye drops, including Acular, Optivar, Pataday, Patanol and Zaditor.
- Prescription antihistamine nasal sprays, including Astelin and Patanase.
- OTC antihistamine nasal sprays, including Astepro.
- Leukotriene antagonists, including Singulair.
- OTC sedating antihistamines, including Benadryl and Extendryl.
- OTC non-sedating antihistamines, including Allergra, Claritin, Zyrtec and Xyzal.
- Prescription antihistamines, including Clarinex.
- Steroid nasal sprays, including Flonase, Nasonex, Omnaris, Rhinocort Aqua and Veramyst.
Talk to your allergist about the right medication combination for managing your unique allergies. Your pharmacist at LoRex Drugs can also direct you on what medications can be taken together safely.
Another option for treating allergies long-term is immunotherapy. This option works by introducing small amounts of allergen extracts into the body so that the immune system can build up a tolerance to them. Immunotherapy is available in two forms: shots (subcutaneous immunotherapy) and drops (sublingual immunotherapy).
Allergy shots are administered in two phases:
- During the buildup phase, you are given shots every one to three days in gradually increasing doses. This phase lasts three to six months.
- During the maintenance phase, you are given shots monthly with a consistent dose. This phase lasts three to five years.
Allergy drops work similarly except they are delivered in drop or tablet form, which is held under the tongue until dissolved. Allergy drops are given in the weeks leading up to and during allergy season. They are FDA-approved to treat allergies to ragweed, grass and dust mites. For more information about allergy treatment options or to schedule an appointment, call Carolina Pines ENT today.