It’s Sneezin’ Season
Itchy eyes and swollen bags under the eyes are typical of an allergy. The fever and chills often experienced with colds and flu are rare with allergies. Discharge from a runny nose is more likely to be clear and watery when it’s caused by an allergic reaction, thick and yellowish when caused by a cold or flu. Colds usually last about a week. When your runny nose and watery eyes last for more than two weeks, you probably have an allergy.
Some 35 million Americans suffer from allergies to everything from cat hair to peanuts. The most common allergy is hay fever, a broad term used to describe the runny nose and eye irritation caused by a reaction to pollen, ragweed trees, or molds.
If spring and summer provoke a mild but annoying allergic reaction, the first line of defense may be one of the many over-the-counter medications available. Antihistamines and decongestants offer effective relief for many people.
Antihistamines work by blocking the release of histamines that bring on the allergy symptoms. In the past antihistamines, often had a number of unpleasant side effects including sleepiness or hyperactivity, depending on the person. Some recently developed antihistamines work without crossing into the brain and so avoid many of the unwanted side effects.
Decongestants offer relief of nasal and sinus congestion by narrowing blood vessels. Most decongestants are also stimulants, however, and may cause sleeplessness, nervousness and hyperactivity.
A few adjustments to your daily routine may bring some relief from hay fever.
- Regular exercise can help reduce respiratory congestion. If you exercise outdoors, try to schedule your sessions for later in the day. Pollen and mold counts are highest in the morning.
- Use an air conditioner to cool your house in summer, if possible. When you open the windows your bring the pollens and molds inside.
When allergies are more serious, make an appointment with your physician who may prescribe medication or a steroid nasal spray. If your allergies are severe, your doctor may refer you to a physician who specializes in the treatment of allergies.
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