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4 Reasons Your Allergies Aren't Improving

Hounded by allergies? Find out what the problem might be.

Reason #2: Medication Mistakes continued...

The fix: Take all medicines exactly as directed. Some must be taken daily or they aren't effective. Others should be used regularly when exposure to an allergen becomes chronic, like visiting a relative with a cat, and allergy shots must be received as scheduled.

Read the directions carefully before use. If a medication doesn't work like it is supposed to, or if you're experiencing side effects, tell your doctor exactly how you are using it and what you're experiencing. Also, make sure you can tolerate the results and have appropriate expectations. Some patients will take an intranasal steroid for two or three days, get no relief, and stop usage even though it may take up to two weeks to reduce symptoms, Zitt says.

If cost keeps you from taking your medicine promptly, talk with your doctor about it. Samples, lower-cost medications, and sticking with the drugs covered by your insurance may help.  

Reason #3: Botched Diagnosis

Getting a correct diagnosis also plays a big role in keeping allergy symptoms at bay.

Patients often try to self-diagnose when it comes to things like allergies and sinus headaches, but they don't always get it right. Maybe you're sure it's an allergy, and it's not. Or maybe you think you've got a sinus infection, but you really have an allergy.

If your diagnosis is wrong, your treatment may be all wrong. For instance, if you actually have a tension headache, using an antihistamine won't improve the situation, says Corinna Bowser, MD, an allergist in Narberth, Pa.

The fix: If you have allergic symptoms or suspect you have an allergy, consult a doctor to find out if it really is an allergy.

Reason # 4: Physical Issues

You might have another medical condition that limits your treatment options. Someone with high blood pressure, for instance, couldn't take a decongestant and would have to substitute a medicine that might not work as well, Friedman says.

Medications you're taking to treat other conditions may also be culprits. Someone may be taking a drug like Flomax, which can worsen sinus conditions and make allergy medicine less useful, he says.

People may respond unusually to allergy medications based on their genes. Their genetics may also make them exhibit different symptoms for allergies than what are traditional, Zitt says.

The fix: Treatment isn't a one-size-fits-all case. Doctors have to look at each individual's case and focus treatment accordingly, and finding the right treatment may take some tinkering.     

Allergy patients often have to use a multi-pronged approach for treating their allergies. It is not always easy and doesn't often happen overnight, but relief can be found.

"People have to get proper care by a specialist [and] have good communication and proper compliance," Zitt says. "It should be a team effort between the physician and patient, with honesty and a willingness to work together. All of these will increase the likelihood for success."

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Reviewed on March 04, 2010

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