Allergy and Hay Fever
More than 14 million Americans suffer from allergies and the number continues to increase. Allergies are typically the result of family history and/or exposure to allergens. Allergens are the substances that produce an allergic response. Allergies are developed upon repeated exposure to environmental allergens. Allergies may be caused by food, indoor allergens and outdoor allergens.
Year-round allergic reactions include foods, animal dander (cats, dogs, horses, and other pets, wool and feathers), cosmetics and house dust.
Early springtime hay fever is most often caused by tree pollens. Late springtime pollens come from grasses and weeds. Ragweed begins in late August and continues until October or the first frost. Mold spore allergies are more year-round, except when snow covers the ground. Indoor molds grow on houseplants and in their soil and in damp places.
Each patient reacts differently to allergens but common symptoms are eczema, nasal congestion, itching, excess mucous production, wheezing and repeated ear infections.
If you are experiencing allergies:
The first line of defense is avoidance of allergens.
- Rid your home of indoor plants, mildew and animals that produce dander.
- Change air filters monthly in the heating and air conditioning system in your home. Or, install an air purifier.
- Change feather pillows, woolen blankets and woolen clothing to cotton or synthetic material such as Dacron.
- Use antihistamines and decongestants as necessary and as directed by your physician.
- Observe general good health practices.
- Stop smoking and avoid air pollutants.
- Exercise regularly.
- Eat a balanced diet.
- Supplement your diet with vitamins, especially vitamin C.
What will happen at my visit to Mid-Kansas Ear, Nose & Throat?
If you have cold-like symptoms for more than two weeks, contact a physician. The physicians at Mid-Kansas Ear, Nose and Throat will discuss your family history, possible exposures and progression of symptoms. The physician will carefully evaluate the nose and sinuses, skin, eyes, face, ears and throat. Based on findings, blood or skin testing may be recommended to determine specific substances to which you are allergic.
Avoidance is the most common treatment. A number of medications are useful in the treatment of allergies. Your physician will choose those best suited. They may include antihistamines, decongestants, cromolyns, nasal steroids and cortisone type preparations. The medical management of suspected allergy also includes counseling in proper environmental control. Severe symptoms may need sublingual allergy drops or allergy injections to help mitigate the symptoms. Doses of the allergen are injected on a regular basis for three-to-five years or until symptoms dissipate.