50 million Americans suffer through allergies, but most don’t realize why allergies impact them and how to treat the cause. With fall allergies in full swing, it might be a good time to consider how you can feel better before the next allergy season hits.
How Allergies Work
When you breathe in airborne particles, the body usually doesn’t react — it identifies the substance as harmless and moves on. Sometimes a body interprets these particles as harmful, when in truth they are not, and reacts by releasing histamine to “fight if off.”
The release of histamine is what causes allergy symptoms like itching, coughing, sneezing, stomach upset, or in worse-case-scenarios, anaphylaxis.
In the fall, the environmental allergies that cause the most issues are ragweed and weeds. By spending more time indoors as the temperatures drop, mold and dust from your home can also start to become problematic.
How Medications Work
The go-to allergy medication is an antihistamine such as Zyrtec®, Claritin®, or Benadryl®. These medications reduce the amount of histamine in the body, and therefore, lessen the symptoms caused by the reaction. There are other products like eye drops, nasal sprays, and anti-itch creams that target specific symptoms like itching.
All these medications will have to be used during every allergy season to keep symptoms to a minimum. Not only do you not feel well, but some cause side effects, and the cost to cover up your symptoms can really start to add up.
How Treatment Works
Patients who experience a shift in quality of life during allergy season may opt to treat the cause of their allergies with sublingual immunotherapy, or allergy drops. Instead of lessening histamine in the body when exposed to offending allergens, allergy drops train the body to not release histamine in the first place.
Treatment starts by slowly exposing the body to the offending allergens. Over time, the amount of allergen in each prescription is safely increased until the body learns to tolerate them and not react. This process typically takes three to five years and can dramatically reduce — or even eliminate — seasonal allergies for a lifetime.
Find a provider near you for allergy testing and details about treatment to fight fall allergies.