By Blair WilliamsonIf fall reminds you of itchy eyes and a runny nose, nursing faculty member Vicky Keys offers these tips for combating seasonal allergies.
Does fall remind you of pumpkin spice and warm-colored leaves or of itchy eyes and a runny nose? Now that summer is over, allergy season is back in full force.
The most common allergy symptoms can include a runny nose, sneezing, congestion, red or watery eyes, and an itchy nose, throat or roof of the mouth. Allergy triggers can include dust mites, animal dander, mold, foods, drugs, or pollen, and are unique to each person.
“Cold and allergy symptoms are very similar. The difference is that cold symptoms clear up within a week, while allergy symptoms last as long as the trigger is present,” said Vicky A. Keys, M.S.N., assistant professor of nursing at the Texas A&M Health Science Center.
Keys recommends the following ways to combat allergy symptoms:
1. Avoid contact with potential triggers.
Stay inside when pollen count is highest from 5 a.m. to 10 a.m. and keep doors and windows closed as often as possible. Avoid mowing, raking leaves and freshly cut grass, and try to change clothes immediately after outside activity. It is also helpful to use a humidifier and install air filters in your home.
2. Take the proper medicine.
Over-the-counter allergy medicine will help stop symptoms, but cannot rid you of allergies. Ask your local pharmacist about other medications you are currently taking and check for their compatibility.
3. Stay hydrated.
When taking multiple medications, ask your pharmacist about their compatibility and drink plenty of fluids.
4. Consider allergy shots as a more permanent alternative.
Your doctor can do a simply skin test to determine allergens that you are sensitive to. Allergy shots are taken regularly over several years to help desensitize the body to allergic reactions. While it will help treat the severity of symptoms, it cannot completely cure you from allergic reactions.
5. Manage stress.
“Also, don’t underestimate the impact that stress management, rest, exercise, and eating well has on fighting allergies,” Keys said. “And as always, wash your hands.”