Allergy Symptoms Shouldn't Be Ignored
WebMD News Archive
"It's scary," he tells WebMD. "The magnitude of the effect was
pretty significant. I think the problem is, not all medications are available
OTC, so they're really limiting themselves. But if they visit a doctor, they
can get a treatment with less side effects."
Children's hay-fever allergies are often underdiagnosed and undertreated,
Houston pediatrician Stuart Abramson, MD, PhD, tells WebMD. "Some people
just think the kids are getting colds all the time, or that kids should have
snotty noses all the time, that it's just part of being a child. Children who
have allergic rhinitis that's not controlled can have problems with sleeping
because their nose is obstructed, there's snoring, and if they don't sleep
well, then they may not perform well in school. There also may be excessive
mouth breathing." Abramson is assistant professor of pediatrics,
microbiology and immunology at Baylor College of Medicine.
A simple allergy skin test takes about 30 minutes and will tell your doctor
whether you have an allergy and exactly which allergens, such as seasonal tree
or grass pollens, produce your symptoms.
Treatment revolves around the key allergy-triggering agents: the immune
molecules, called IgE antibodies, that cause your body to respond to allergens;
and the chemical histamine, which is released during this process.
Antihistamines block the action of histamine, the chemical that is responsible
for symptoms such as sneezing and runny nose. Nasal steroid sprays deliver a
fine mist to the nose's lining and also suppress the allergic response.
Prescription antihistamines and nasal sprays work best, without side
effects, says Weiler. "Nasal steroid sprays are often thought to be most
effective treatment for the congestion and some of the runny nose, but they
don't work quite as well for itching. Antihistamines work best for itching. The
upside of OTC drugs is that they're cheaper, but the downside is that they have
more side effects, are more likely to cause drowsiness and
Those who have severe seasonal allergies for which nothing else works can
get long-term relief with allergy shots. A recent study published in TheNew England Journal of Medicine showed that allergy shots have
long-lasting effects, boosting the body's immune system for three years or
The best advice, Weiler says, is to talk to your doctor. "It sounds real
simple to just pick up an OTC drug from the pharmacy, but that doesn't work for
many people. ... They're really limiting themselves. There are much better
treatments available with less side effects."