Do you sneeze and wheeze all spring long? If so, you may be making common mistakes that prevent you from keeping your allergy symptoms under control. The American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) alerts allergy sufferers to avoid these five common mistakes:
- Treating symptoms without knowing what you’re allergic to. You may think you know what’s causing your allergy symptoms, but more than two-thirds of spring allergy sufferers actually have year-round allergies. An allergist, a doctor who is an expert in treating allergies and asthma, can perform tests to pinpoint the cause of your suffering and then find the right treatment to stop it.
- Spending blindly on over-the-counter medications. There are tons of treatments available at the store, some of which can be very effective. But if you’re buying new products all the time, spending a bundle and not feeling better, consult with an allergist who can discuss which options might be best for you. Your allergist may suggest nasal spray or allergy shots, also called immunotherapy. Immunotherapy can actually cure your allergies and keep you out of the drug store aisles for good.
- Waiting too long to take allergy meds. Don’t wait until symptoms kick in and you’re already feeling bad to take allergy medication. Instead, prepare by taking medication that has worked for you in the past just before the season starts. Pay attention to the weather: When winter weather turns warm, pollens and molds are released into the air. Start treatment prior to the warm up.
- Not steering clear of your allergy triggers. Finding the right treatment is important, but it’s also critical to start avoiding what you are allergic to. For example, if you have a pollen allergy, make sure you keep your windows shut, take a shower when you come inside and stay indoors during mid-day when pollen counts are highest. All of these things can make a big difference in how you feel.
- Eating produce and other foods that might aggravate sniffles and sneezing. If your mouth, lips and throat get itchy and you sniffle and sneeze after eating certain raw or fresh fruits or other foods, you may have “oral allergy syndrome”. The condition, which affects about one third of seasonal allergy sufferers, occurs in people who are already allergic to pollen when their immune system sees a similarity between the proteins of pollen and those of the food, and triggers a reaction. If you are allergic to tree pollen, for example, foods like apples, cherries, pears, apricots, kiwis, oranges, plums, almonds, hazelnut and walnuts may bother you. Cooking or peeling the food may help, but you should talk to an allergist.