“Some people suffer with seasonal allergies for years before they learn that there are effective treatments,” says James Sublett, MD, chief of pediatric allergy at the University of Louisville School of Medicine in Kentucky. But there are good reasons why you shouldn’t wait to treat allergies.
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“If allergy symptoms aren’t treated early, they can actually get worse over time,” Sublett says.
Here are five allergy symptoms you shouldn’t ignore and what you can do about them.
Nasal Allergy Symptom 1: Runny or Stuffy Nose
A runny or stuffy nose is one of the most common symptoms. “The best way to treat congestion is to treat the allergy that’s causing it,” says Marshall Plaut, MD, chief of allergic mechanisms at the Asthma, Allergy and Inflammation branch of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID).
Start by trying to avoid your allergy triggers. If you don’t already know what your allergy triggers are, an allergist can help you identify them.
Although it can be difficult to completely avoid some triggers, you may be able to reduce your exposure to them. For example, if pollen is a trigger, stay inside when pollen counts are high. If dogs or cats make you sniffle, wash your hands and change your clothes after playing with them.
Some people find that nasal irrigation using a Neti pot or a nasal rinse helps clear congestion. Over-the-counter antihistamines, decongestants, and cromolyn sodium nasal sprays can all help control nasal allergy symptoms. Don’t use decongestant nasal sprays for more than three days at a time, however. Be sure to read and follow the directions on the label for any over-the-counter medicine.
If these remedies don’t offer relief, your doctor may prescribe other treatments.
If your symptoms don’t get better within 7 days or get worse after about 5 days, it’s time to see your doctor.