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Surviving Allergy Season

Surviving Allergy Season

Spring signals the onset of allergies for millions of people in the United States, and while such conditions are not usually dangerous, they do impact quality of life. Otolaryngologist Jack Hsu, MD, of Valley Health Ear, Nose and Throat, offers helpful tips for seasonal allergy sufferers.

Identify your triggers

“If you know what you are allergic to, you can predict when you may have symptoms and take steps to avoid them,” Dr. Hsu says. Such actions include using an air purifier, flushing your nasal passages with saline before allergens have time to affect your system, using over-the-counter antihistamines, and wearing a mask or staying inside on bad days. “If there are other sources of irritation such as cigarette smoke or an environment where there is dust and debris, those will complicate allergic symptoms,” he adds.

Talk to your physician if you think you might have a sinus infection

“When sinuses get blocked or irritated, we call that sinusitis. It can be from a bacterial or viral infection, or chronic inflammation,” says Dr. Hsu. The symptoms of allergies and sinusitis can overlap, so seek professional treatment to ensure the best course of action. “An expert opinion may be required to diagnose the problem. It’s hard to look up into your own sinuses.”

Determine the right treatment for you

“There isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer for allergies,” says Dr. Hsu. Over-the-counter antihistamines have their individual upsides and downsides. Dr. Hsu recommends taking medication at the onset of symptoms for more effective relief. Topical nasal steroids can be an option for people with nasal congestion, while those who suffer from severe allergies might want to consider immunotherapy. Says Dr. Hsu: “If you can identify what you are allergic to and get dosed with that material in small batches, your immune system gets used to it.”

This article first appeared in Spring/Summer 2017 edition of HealthLINK Magazine.