When you suffer from allergies, you’ll do just about anything to gain relief from the associated symptoms. There are different ways to get this relief through various management and treatment options. But what’s the difference between managing your allergies and treating them? Think of it this way; management is the overarching theme in all aspects of healthcare, consisting of treatment options, patient education, and mitigating environmental factors. If you dive deeper into what treatment includes, you’ll see that it consists of prescription medication, over-the-counter medication, and immunotherapy (also known as allergy shots).
Effectively Manage Your Allergies
While maintaining your schedule of prescribed medications can help relieve your allergy symptoms, the simplest way to protect yourself is to avoid the allergen altogether; however, that’s often not a possibility. There are a variety of ways to help manage your allergies in conjunction with your existing treatment protocol.
Dust mites are one of the most common environmental allergens and can be found throughout your house. You can limit the number of mites in your home with these simple actions:
- Choose wood or hard vinyl floor coverings. Carpet traps dust mites, and even a regular vacuum or carpet shampoo does not always eliminate them.
- Use roller blinds that can easily be wiped clean.
- Choose leather, plastic, or vinyl instead of upholstered furniture. Upholstery also traps dust mites, much like carpeting.
- Use allergy-proof covers on mattresses, duvets, and pillows.
- Use a vacuum cleaner fitted with a HEPA filter. This type of vacuum cleaner can collect more dust mites than others.
- Clean thoroughly using a damp, clean cloth. Dry dusting displaces the mites into the air.
We love our furry friends and want to keep them with us, but the allergens they carry in their dander might not suit you. If you cannot permanently remove the pet from your house, you can:
- Keep pets outside or limit them to one part of the house. You want to keep them away from carpeted areas, which can trap their dander.
- Don’t allow pets in your bedroom.
- Wash and groom your pets at least once a week.
- Groom pets outside.
- Regularly wash all bedding and soft furnishings the pets lie on.
- Use air filters.
- Increase ventilation with fans or air conditioning.
- Prepare for visits with people who have pets. When visiting a friend with a pet, ask them not to dust on the day you’re visiting as that will stir up the allergens. Take an antihistamine about an hour before entering their home.
When molds release tiny particles, you might experience an allergic reaction. The best ways to prevent this are:
- Keep your home dry and well-ventilated.
- Remove indoor pot plants from your home.
- Don’t store damp clothes. Also, avoid packing your clothes too tightly in a wardrobe or closet.
- Immediately deal with any dampness or condensation in your home.
- Avoid damp buildings, wood, rotten leaves, cut grass, or compost heaps.
With food allergies, it’s not always easy to simply “just not eat it.” Sometimes the allergy is an ingredient in a recipe at a restaurant that you’re not aware of. Here are ways to ensure you do not accidentally ingest food with your allergen:
- Don’t rely on the menu description alone. It doesn’t hurt to ask questions!
- Tell your wait staff about your allergy and ask for their advice.
- Avoid places where there is a chance of cross-contamination, such as buffets or bakeries.
- Always check what allergens are in the dish, even if you’ve eaten it before. Ingredients and recipes can change.
Pollen allergies are pretty common and are triggered at different times of the year. Typically, springtime is known for elevated tree pollen levels, and summertime is known for high grass pollen levels. To keep your hay fever well managed, you can:
- Check weather reports for pollen count and stay inside when it’s high.
- Don’t hang dry your clothes outside.
- Wear wraparound sunglasses to protect your eyes.
- Keep doors and windows shut when possible.
- Shower and change after going outdoors.
- Avoid grassy areas. Parks and fields may be nice, but the pollen count can be harmful, especially in the early morning, evening, or night.
- Have someone else mow your lawn.
Insect Bites and Stings
A bad reaction to an insect bite or sting is no fun, so it’s essential to take precautions to minimize the risk. To do this, you can:
- Cover exposed skin.
- Wear shoes.
- Apply insect repellent.
- Avoid wearing strong perfumes or fragrances that can attract insects.
Effectively Treat Your Allergies
When taking precautions and avoiding your allergens don’t completely relieve your symptoms, you can further treat your allergies with medications and immunotherapy.
Different medications can be used to treat allergies; antihistamines, nasal steroid sprays, and antileukotrienes are a few.
- Antihistamines: These are great in treating mild to moderate allergies. Antihistamines suppress histamine, a chemical produced by the immune system that causes allergy symptoms. These can be administered orally or through a nasal spray. They work quickly and can be used as needed.
- Nasal Steroids: These are best for allergic rhinitis. They open the nasal passages so you can breathe easier. They can also help with both non-allergic rhinitis and eye allergies. While they are effective, they do not treat the underlying allergy. They should be used daily for the best results.
- Antileukotrienes: These block inflammatory compounds known as leukotrienes rather than blocking histamines. They can be used to treat both allergies and asthma but are not always enough on their own. Usually, they are prescribed with either antihistamines or oral steroids. They do alleviate congestion but might not help with all nasal symptoms.
There are different versions of immunotherapy available to you. The experts at Allergy and Asthma Care of Florida can help you identify the underlying causes of your allergies and recommend the best treatment for you. Here are some of the immunotherapy options:
- Subcutaneous: Allergy injections are administered in the office. When this treatment starts, injections are given weekly with gradually increasing concentrations. Patients often notice a decrease in their symptoms within 3-6 months, then return monthly for additional injections.
- Sublingual Immunotherapy: Allergy drops are another method of treating allergies. The extract is dropped daily under the tongue in the convenience of their own home. As this treatment continues, the dosage will be adjusted. This is great for the needle-adverse or those who have particularly hectic schedules. This treatment is tailored to the patient, making it more effective than over-the-counter medicines.
- Sublingual Tablets: Similar to allergy drops, these are provided in tablet format.
A Treatment Plan for You
A combination of management and treatment might be the best solution. The specialists at Allergy and Asthma Care of Florida are board-certified allergists who can help diagnose your allergies and plan the best course of action for you. Call them for an appointment today at 352-622-1126.