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Healthy Tips | Tips from the Campbell University Health Center

Don’t Let Allergy Symptoms Get You Down

Fall allergy season will soon be upon us, so if you have a history of fall allergies, it’s time to get prepared. While there are a number of different causes of fall allergies, common triggers include ragweed, mold, and dust mites.

The classic symptoms of allergies include runny nose, stuffy nose, itchy/watery eyes, repeated sneezing, sinus pressure, and coughing. Dark circles, referred to as allergic shiners, can form under the eyes. Sometimes it is hard to distinguish between allergies and the common cold. They both have several symptoms in common, but the common cold is often associated with headaches, body aches, and a mild fever. The common cold does not usually cause you to sneeze repeatedly.

SOME EASY TIPS FOR PREVENTING ALLERGIES INCLUDE:

1. Keep your windows closed in your house and your car

2. Use air conditioning to keep cool if possible

3. Change your home air filters frequently

4. If you are working outside, wear a mask to filter the air

5. Work outside early in the day when pollen counts are usually at their lowest

6. Change your clothes and wash when you come inside

7. Wash your hair before you go to bed to keep pollen off your pillow

8. Keep pets and plants out of the bedroom

9. Consider getting a HEPA filter for the bedroom

Medications can be very helpful for treating allergy symptoms. The key is to keep ahead of your allergies by starting medication at the first sign of symptoms rather than waiting until the symptoms are severe.

Antihistamines are the cornerstone of treatment. The “non-sedating” antihistamines are much less likely to make you drowsy. Loratadine (Claritin), cetirizine (Zyrtec), and fexofenadine (Allegra) cause little or no sedation and are available without a prescription. It may take several days of use before antihistamines achieve their full effect. Some antihistamines, like diphenhydramine (Benadryl), can make you sleepy and might not be a good daytime choice.

Steroid sprays used in the nose are available without a prescription as well. Steroid sprays may be used at the same time as an antihistamine or as an alternative antihistamine. Steroid sprays take up to two weeks to have their full effect on allergy symptoms, so give it some time before you judge their effect.

Successful treatment of allergies requires prevention, consistent use of medications, and early follow-up with your health care provider if your treatment is not working. Do not wait until your symptoms are severe before seeking attention. If you need help with treating your allergies, come visit us at the Campbell University Health Center.

Amy Allen RN, CDE & Nicholas Pennings, DO. To make an appointment or for more information about the Health Center, visit campbell.edu/healthcenter. Healthy Tips contributed by Dr. Nicholas Pennings.