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Allergies Health Center

Spring Allergies: A Q&A with Our Top Expert

How to handle the runny nose, itchy eyes, and sinus pain of spring allergies
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The benefits are there for adults, too. There are drawbacks -- some people don’t have the time for the weekly shots; others are afraid of needles. In Europe, doctors are giving drops under the tongue, but that’s not FDA-approved here yet, even though several studies do show they are effective.

Q: One of the toughest situations that comes up when kids are diagnosed with allergies is the recommendation to reduce exposure to allergens by giving away the family cat or dog. What is your position on this?

A: It’s a question of working with people’s lifestyles. If you take 10 people who are avid golfers and tell them they have to quit because of their allergies, 10 out of 10 are going to tell you to take a walk.

You have to give people treatment choices that they can actually work with and that are going to work for them. You can’t tell someone who has had a dog for 10 years and just had a kid to get rid of the dog. That dog has been their kid longer than the kid.

So you make certain changes in the home: keep the dog, have the child irrigate. You can use saline nasal spray and saline drops even on infants, which can be very helpful. And certainly keep the animal out of the baby’s room -- put up a gate if you have to. Put an air filter in the baby’s room. All these things can really help.

Q: As you’ve mentioned, another lifestyle approach is to “irrigate” the sinuses -- as some cultures have practiced for centuries -- but it tends to turn some people off. What’s the benefit of this homespun remedy? You must get a lot of resistance when you first recommend it to patients.

A: I think neti pots are probably the best thing out there for people with sinus problems and allergies and even colds. You can also use a pulsating nasal irrigator or a squeeze bottle. All are easy to use, and the risks are almost zero. It’s kind of like taking a shower when you get home.

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