Allergy Symptoms Shouldn't Be Ignored
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."
- As allergy season approaches, sufferers may experience coughing, sneezing,
sleep disturbances, and headaches, but many will forgo a visit to the
- A skin test that takes about 30 minutes can determine whether a patient has
allergies, and exactly what he or she is allergic to.
- It's important to talk with a physician about allergy medications, such as
prescription antihistamines and nasal steroid sprays, which work well and have
few side effects.