ARC Allergist Dr. Colleen Adkins at Volusion Healthfair

How Best to Manage Allergies

Allergies are a common, ongoing ailment for people living in Austin. For some, it seems like one long (never ending) sneezy season. It’s one of the main reasons we often get requests from local employers and organizations to speak to staff about allergy management tips.

Most recently, Austin Regional Clinic Allergist, Colleen Adkins, MD, visited Volusion, a local technology company, providing background on how seasonal allergies affect our bodies, lifestyle changes that may minimize symptoms and effective over-the-counter and prescription therapies.

How Allergies Work

Seasonal allergies are the immune system's response to the millions of pollen floating through the air. For those who suffer from an allergy, the body responds to the pollen with an inflammatory response which leads to annoying symptoms like itchy eyes or a runny nose. This is known as allergic rhinitis, or "hay fever." In some places, Spring tends to be the high allergy season. Austin, however, has a busy allergy calendar — with various allergy pollens and molds at high levels every season of the year.

Relieving Symptoms: First Line of Defense

Your first step to managing symptoms is to understand what you’re allergic, too. If you’re usually suffering in January, then you’re most likely allergic to Cedar. If March and April are your sneezy months, then oak may be the culprit.

Once you uncover your allergy trigger, take steps to reduce your exposure when the pollen count is the highest. You might consider closing the windows to your home, limiting your time outside or changing your clothes when you come inside, showering before bed, washing your sheets more often and, if you have a pet, bathing them regularly, too.

Relieving Symptoms: Treatment

There are many over-the-counter allergy medicines that can effectively reduce symptoms. If your allergy tends to be mostly in the upper respiratory area (sneezing, coughing, itchy eyes), over-the-counter nose sprays may be effective. Note: Many of these nasal spray medicines work best if used regularly up to two to three weeks before the allergy season begins and through the entire allergy season. Oral antihistamines can also be effective and used either on their own or with the nose sprays.

If your allergy tends to be year-round or if over-the-counter medicines are not providing relief you may want to consider immunotherapy, typically referred to as allergy shots or allergy drops. These work by giving your body little amounts of the allergen over time, to provoke an antibody response.

Bottom line… you don’t need to suffer. There are many lines of defense when it comes to seasonal allergies. Make an appointment with an allergist and take control of yours.

Tags: Allergies, Dr. Colleen Adkins, Volusion