Spring is a beautiful time of year, with warmer weather and trees and shrubs in full bloom. If you have springtime allergies, though, this can be one of the roughest times of the year, with itchy, watery eyes; sneezing; congestion; and a runny nose.
At Oasis Ear, Nose, and Throat, our board-certified ENT specialists, Dr. James Osborne and Dr. Bryan Smedley, understand the difficulties springtime allergies can bring, which is why we offer a number of tips and treatment options to nip those allergies in the bud.
What is an allergy?
An allergy is your immune system’s response to what it believes is a foreign and harmful substance. That’s great if you encounter an invasive virus or bacterium, but not so great if you meet with a substance that poses no threat.
The biggest springtime allergy trigger is pollen from trees, grasses, and weeds that release tiny grains into the air to fertilize other plants and reproduce. If you’re allergic, pollen sends your immune system into chaos when the grains enter your nose.
Your immune system mistakenly sees the pollen as a threat to your health and releases antibodies that attack the allergen (the substance that triggers an allergic attack). Your body then releases histamines, which are directly responsible for the runny nose, itchy eyes, and other uncomfortable symptoms.
Tips to nip those springtime allergies in the bud
Fortunately, there are quite several things you can do to prevent the misery of springtime allergies.
Avoid your triggers
The best thing to do is to avoid the problem altogether. Stay inside on high-pollen, dry, windy days. The best time to be outside is after a rainstorm, which helps clear pollen from the air.
If you go outside, shower and wash your clothes when you come in to remove any allergens stuck to you.
Vacuum your house a couple of times a week, too, wearing a mask while you do so since the cleaner will kick up dust and pollen that have settled to the floor.
Use over-the-counter remedies
Many medications ease allergic symptoms. They include:
- Antihistamines: reduce symptoms by lowering the amount of histamine in your body
- Decongestants: shrink blood vessels in the nasal passageways to relieve congestion and swelling
- Nasal spray decongestants: relieve congestion and work faster than oral decongestants without some of the side effects
- Steroid nasal sprays: the preferred initial treatment, which reduces inflammation
- Cromolyn sodium nasal spray: eases symptoms by blocking the release of histamine; works best if started before exposure to allergens
- Eye drops: relieve itchy, watery eyes
Before starting on any of these, talk to us to ensure they don’t produce unwanted side effects and are safe for you to take.
Rinse your sinuses
Rinsing your nasal passages with a saline solution is quick, inexpensive, and effective at relieving nasal congestion. Rinsing flushes out both mucus and allergens from your nose.
You can purchase ready-made saline solutions at any pharmacy (e.g., NeilMed® neti pot) or make your own. Always use bottled water to reduce the risk of infection.
For homemade solutions, use 1 quart (1 liter) of water, 1.5 teaspoons (7.5 milliliters) of canning salt, and 1 teaspoon (5 milliliters) of baking soda.
Always rinse the irrigation device after each use and leave it open to air-dry.
Schedule an appointment with the ENT
If you have bad seasonal allergies, your Oasis ENT provider may recommend that you have skin tests or blood tests to find out exactly what allergens trigger your symptoms. Testing can help you learn the steps you need to take to avoid your specific triggers; it can also help identify which treatments will likely work best for you.
For some people, allergy shots (immunotherapy) can be a good treatment option. We give you regular injections containing tiny amounts of allergens, increasing the dose incrementally over time. The constant exposure reduces your immune system’s response to the allergen, providing lasting relief. You can also use tablets under the tongue.
Ready to get over your springtime allergies? Then, come into Oasis Ear, Nose, and Throat for an evaluation and effective treatment. To schedule, call us at 623-207-7560, or book online with us today.