Ah, warm weather. For allergy sufferers, that means an onslaught of
symptoms, like sneezing, sniffing, red eyes, and runny noses. Plus, trying
desperately to avoid allergy triggers at parks, playgrounds, and gardens.
An estimated 35 million people in the U.S. suffer from seasonal allergic
rhinitis, or nasal allergies. Women are all too aware of when allergy season
hits, because visible allergy symptoms may have them reaching for their makeup
bags in a panic.
"Springtime — when things are growing — can be tough," says Julie
Livingston, a public relations professional in the metro-NYC region, who has
She says her allergy symptoms can make her feel self-conscious. "My eyes
often appear red and irritated," she says, "People will ask, 'Are you OK?' even
when I'm not really sick."
But there's no reason for you to sit back and surrender to allergies this
season. Fight back with WebMD's arsenal of practical advice for conquering
allergies and embracing springtime without a tissue box in hand.
Allergies? It's Not Just You
Year after year, many women cope with allergies — sometimes without even
realizing it. Common complaints include nasal congestion, scratchy throat,
itchy eyes and allergic shiners, dark circles that appear beneath the eyes and
puffiness in the upper face.
"We found over 80% of women didn't realize that the allergic shiners could
be attributed to allergies and sinus problems," says Clifford Bassett, MD,
medical director of Allergy & Asthma Care of New York and on faculty at the
NYU School of Medicine. "So they use cosmetics and foundation to cover it up,
but with treatment, it actually can improve and go away. They can look and feel
"The bottom line is allergies are 100% treatable," he says. "People don't
need to suffer. If you're having symptoms and it's persistent and bothersome,
then see an allergist and get tested. It's very simple. Then you can approach
the problem much more definitively and exactly based on your needs."
Quality of life issues can affect your daily activities, says Kathleen May,
MD, an allergist in private practice in Cumberland, Md.
"If you can't sleep, and you're coughing all night and congested," she says,
"you're not going to be very functional. A lot more people are miserable than
realize it. They can do better."
"You'll hear people say, 'Oh, it's just my allergies,'" she says. "It's
dismissed. But it's time to educate them that it's really more than a nuisance.
Allergies are a serious problem and can be treated."