Are You A Spring Allergy Sufferer?
Those of us who suffer from allergies in spring don’t need a calendar to know when the season rolls around. Sniffling, sneezing, a runny nose, nasal congestion, watery eyes and itchy skin always signal springtime’s arrival. For some it doesn’t end there.
Sinus infections and headaches, chronic congestion, snoring and their numerous complications, can interfere with school, work and leisure. Untreated allergies can lead to asthma, sleep apnea, recurrent sinus infections and ear infections in children. Sleep apnea disturbs sleep, causing daytime tiredness, poor concentration and even heart disease. Spring allergies that affect your nose can affect your quality of life and general health.
What are spring allergies?
Spring allergies are nasal allergy symptoms that appear or worsen in the spring. Your doctor will refer to them as seasonal allergies or seasonal allergic rhinitis. Also called hay fever, spring allergies have nothing to do with either hay or fever.
Spring allergies are usually triggered by exposure to tree and grass pollen or airborne mould spores.
Most Australians who suffer from spring allergies do not see a doctor. They self- medicate with over-the-counter remedies, such as decongestants and anti-histamines, sometimes under the guidance of a pharmacist, sometimes not. Of those who seek medical treatment, only a small number are hospitalised because of their spring allergies.
Treatments for spring allergies
There are many steps you can take to avoid, minimise or treat allergies.
Allergen avoidance is the best way of managing symptoms, providing you correctly identify what is causing your allergies. There are tests that help you find out exactly what is causing your allergy symptoms.
But avoidance is not always practical. If you are allergic to pollen, you may benefit from pollen calendars and forecasts, but unless you live in a plastic bubble, pollen will be a springtime fact of life.
The most common medications prescribed for seasonal allergies are corticosteroids delivered through the nose and oral antihistamines. Exactly how these should be used depend on whether your symptoms are mild, moderate or severe and persistent or intermittent.
Allergy shots (immunotherapy) offer another option for those who have persistent moderate to severe allergic symptoms that do not respond to corticosteroids. Instead of merely treating symptoms, immunotherapy attempts, over a long period of time, to ‘train’ your immune system to react to allergens less strongly. Although they require a serious long-term commitment, most people can see improvements within four or five months.
Eastern and Western medical practices are blending to provide effective ways to manage spring allergy symptoms.
– Nasal irrigation – Using a distilled sterile saline solution to ‘irrigate’ nasal passages and sinuses can help clear congestion, relieve sinus headaches and improve breathing. Irrigation works by removing allergens and irritants such as dust and pollen and mucus from the nose. Nasal flushing can be achieved with a Neti pot or squeeze and pressure bottles.
– Nasal sprays – Some nasal sprays are non-medicated, and contain a saline solution for clearing nasal passages.
– Acupuncture and homeopathic treatments and a variety of home remedies may offer relief from allergy symptoms.
Can nose surgery help?
Functional rhinoplasty can sometimes help relieve severe spring allergy symptoms. People who have breathing problems after a nose injury, who have deviated septa, enlarged nasal turbinates or nasal polyps can benefit from such surgery.
Nasal septoplasty corrects the imbalances in the nose resulting from injury or a naturally deviated septum. Such imbalances make people prone to nasal congestion. Any allergies that affect the nose will lead to more severe congestion.
Turbinoplasty or turbinate reduction is a quick and painless procedure that reduces the size of nasal turbinates, bony protrusions inside the nose that can become enlarged, often leading to chronic congestion.
Nasal polyps are soft growths that develop in the lining of sinuses and the nasal cavity. Large polyps or those that occur in groups may lead to congestion. Nasal polyps can be shrunk or eliminated using medications including allergy treatments. Surgical removal of nasal polyps is a relatively simple and straightforward procedure.
So if spring allergies make your life a misery, do not despair. There are a wide range of treatments, surgical, medical and nonmedical that can help your condition and give you your life back.
You just have to explore the possibilities and find what works best for you.
Posted on 23 Aug 2013