The substances that trigger allergy symptoms are called allergens. Outdoor allergens include tree pollen in the spring, grass pollen in the summer, weed pollen in the fall, and outdoor mold spores. Indoor allergens include dust mites (they live on linens and other materials), pet dander (a protein found in animal secretions and skin), indoor mold spores (especially around bathrooms, refrigerator drip trays, etc.) and cockroaches (gross!).
Allergies can be both prevented and treated. Prevention occurs when we avoid contact with the guilty allergens.
For outdoor allergens: Keep track of the pollen counts and limit your outdoor exposure on high-pollen days. Keep doors and windows closed on those days, and if you must be outside, shower and change your clothes when you come in, then rinse your nasal passages with saline wash. When you are outside, stay off the grass and use a mask to protect yourself when doing outdoor work.
For indoor allergens: Use a good air filter, minimize dust mite exposure (dust weekly, wash linens in hot water weekly, and use dust-proof zippered coverings over your pillow and mattress), keep pets out of your bedroom and definitely off your bed, prevent mold (keep your home dry, especially in high-moisture areas), and prevent those cockroaches.
So, when you get exposed and feel miserable, what’s the best way to treat it? I’m a big fan of OTC nasal saline and inhaled nasal steroids (e.g., fluticasone or triamcinolone nasal spray). Saline is a natural decongestant without the many side effects that accompany pharmaceutical decongestants (e.g., phenylephrine and pseudoephedrine). The saline nasal sprays that come in a metal canister emit a pressurized fine mist, as opposed to plastic squeeze-containers.
The inhaled nasal steroids are not addictive (as oxymetazoline nasal spray is) and are safe, with many of them approved down to the age of 2. Used daily, these nasal sprays prevent allergies by consistently decreasing inflammation in the nasal passageways.
Loretta A. Farrell MD, Owner
8787 N. Owasso Expressway Suite J
Owasso, OK • 918-516-2296
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