For every season, there is a sneeze
Coping with year-round allergies
Springtime may be justly famous for allergies, but for many people the misery of sniffles, sneezing and watery eyes doesn’t end with the summer solstice. If you suffer from allergy symptoms throughout the year, chances are you have multiple allergies to irritants both indoors and out.
Take these steps to help you cope:
- Consider the culprits. You may need a doctor to pinpoint and treat your allergies, but first try some detective work to see whether you can manage mild or occasional symptoms by using over-the-counter medications and avoiding environmental triggers. Dust, pets and mold are the biggest indoor offenders. If your symptoms are seasonal, however, you may be allergic to certain pollens. In the spring, the prevalent allergen is tree pollen. Summer brings grasses, and in the fall, weeds abound.
- Explore over-the-counter treatments. Nonprescription antihistamines curb the body’s actual allergic response and work best when you take them routinely. Decongestants may improve breathing. Nose drops and sprays, however, are for occasional use only. Don’t use them for more than three days because longer use may cause more harm. Eye drops can provide some temporary symptom relief.
- Is it a vicious allergen or a virus? Determine whether you have an allergy or a cold. While both can cause a runny nose, coughing and sneezing, allergies usually have a clear discharge and don’t cause aches, pains or fever. Allergies may come on suddenly, but symptoms tend to linger through a season or more. Colds usually run their course within a week.
- When to see your doctor. See your healthcare provider for an evaluation and prescription medications if over-the-counter remedies and self-care measures don’t offer enough relief, your symptoms worsen or you develop asthma-like reactions such as wheezing. You may need to see an allergist for skin testing or further treatment.