If you are suffering with sneezing, itchy, watery eyes, runny nose, post nasal drip, scratchy throat or nasal congestion, you may have allergies. Also known as allergic rhinitis or hay fever, seasonal or year-round allergies are one of the most common yet overlooked diseases affecting up to 50 million Americans annually. Allergic symptoms span from mild to very severe, from one symptom to a combination of many symptoms, and can have a profound impact on quality of life.
What Are Allergies?
Allergies occur when a person’s immune system reacts to normally harmless substances or allergens in the environment. These allergens may include:
- Dust Mites
- Pet Dander
Allergy Treatment Options
Although there is really no cure for allergies, with new techniques and medications, it is possible to live without experiencing the troubling symptoms associated with them. For each patient, a customized treatment plan is necessary to alleviate symptoms. These plans often include multiple treatment approaches to optimize results. Treatments options include:
The best way to decrease your allergy symptoms is through lifestyle changes aimed at avoiding the substances to which you are allergic. We recognize that this is easier said than done, but with new tools and products (dust mite covers, air purifiers and HEPA filters, etc), we can help you make avoidance simpler.
Using an over the counter saline spray or irrigation system regularly will cleanse and moisten your sinuses and thus reduces symptoms.
Over the Counter Allergy Relief
There are many medications available either over-the-counter or by prescription designed to alleviate the symptoms. These pills and sprays include:
- Antihistamines – Act by blocking the release of histamine, a chemical produced by the body that triggers an inflammatory reaction that can produce swelling of the nose, congestion, itching, sneezing, and a runny nose. They are available as either an over the counter pill or prescription nasal spray.
- Nasal Steroid Sprays – Reduce the inflammatory response and are the preferred treatment for mild allergies. They are very effective at reducing nasal congestions and allergic inflammation.
- Leukotriene Blockers – Leukotriene blockers reduce mucosal inflammation. They are usually used in combination with some of the other treatments listed on this page.
- Decongestants – Available as either a nasal spray or pill. We do not recommend nasal decongestant sprays as they are addicting and have a high potential for rebound congestion if used for more than 3 days. The only potent oral decongestant available is pseudoephedrine. It acts by reducing blood flow and therefore shrinking the membranes in your nose. Pseudoephedrine is a stimulant and there are several drawbacks to its use such as elevated blood pressure, jitteriness, anxiousness, and poor sleep.
Immunotherapy is when you are given a very tiny amount of the substance/allergen (via shots or drops) to which you are allergic, enough to stimulate your immune system but not so much as to cause a full-blown allergic reaction. Over time, your immune system will build up a tolerance to the allergen, and allergy symptoms will diminish.
In order to achieve optimal medical treatment, it is imperative to receive an accurate diagnosis. At St. Louis Sinus Center we undergo thorough steps to establish a proper diagnosis of your symptoms. Our steps include gathering efficient medical history, and performing a thorough examination of your ear, nose, throat, and head, to acquire a proper assessment.