Allergies - 20 Ways To Feel Better-[Part-1]
Spring's pollens. Summer's smog. Autumn's falling leaves. Winter's house dust. For millions of Americans, each change of season brings its own brand of allergens and irritants. For people with common hay fever and allergies, these pollutants can bring on symptoms ranging from a continuous, annoying postnasal drip to a full-scale, coughing-sneezing-itchy-eyed allergy attack. For other allergy sufferers, such as those with allergic asthma or an allergy to bee stings, attacks can be fatal. In many cases, allergy symptoms are difficult to differentiate from the symptoms of other disorders and illnesses, such as a cold, a deformity of the nose, or a food intolerance. For this reason, many doctors suggest that allergies be properly diagnosed by a board-certified allergist (a medical doctor who treats allergies) to avoid the self-administration of inappropriate medications or other remedies. Also, many allergy sufferers can benefit from today's wide range of available treatments, such as new prescription antihistamines that don't cause drowsiness, nasal corticosteroids, and allergy injections that can provide immunity to a specific allergen (an allergen is the name for any substance, such as pollen, that causes an allergic reaction). If you don't go to the doctor, you may be missing out on a treatment that may be of great help to you. However, many mild allergies, such as seasonal hay fever or an allergy to cats, can be treated with a combination of properly used, over-the-counter antihistamines and a wide range of strategies to reduce or eliminate your exposure to particularly annoying allergens. The following tips are designed to help reduce the discomfort caused by the most common allergies. They may be used in combination with an allergist's treatment or, if your allergies are mild, by themselves.
Avoid the culprit.
Sometimes, the best way to reduce the discomfort of an allergy is to avoid exposure to the allergen as much as possible, according to Edward J. O'Connell, M.D., professor of pediatrics at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, and past president of the American College of Allergy and Immunology. "Take all practical measures," he says. For example, if you are allergic to cats, avoid visiting the homes of friends who own them. If you must be around a cat, make the visit as short as possible and avoid touching or picking up the animal, he says.
Rinse your eyes.
If your eyes are itchy and irritated and you have no access to allergy medicine, rinsing your eyes with cool, clean water may help soothe them, O'Connell says. Although not as effective as an antihistamine, this remedy certainly can't do any damage.
Try a warm washcloth.
If sinus passages feel congested and painful, a washcloth soaked in warm water may make things flow a little easier, according to O'Connell. Place the washcloth over the nose and upper-cheek area and relax for a few minutes, he suggests.
Use saline solution.
Irrigating the nose with saline solution may help soothe upper-respiratory allergies by removing irritants that become lodged in the nose, causing inflammation, according to Anthony Montanaro, M.D., associate professor of medicine in the Division of Allergy and Immunology at Oregon Health Sciences University in Portland. "The solution may also remove some of the inflammatory cells themselves," he adds.
Wash your hair.
If you've spent long hours outdoors during the pollen season, wash your hair after you come inside to remove pollen, suggests Clifton T. Furukawa, M.D., clinical professor of pediatrics at the University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle and past chairman of the Professional Education Council for the American Academy of Allergy and Immunology. The sticky stuff tends to collect on the hair, making it more likely to fall into your eyes.
Take a shower.
If you wake up in the middle of the night with a coughing, sneezing allergy attack, a hot shower may wash off any pollen residues you've collected on your body throughout the day, says Furukawa. The warm water will also relax you and help you go back to sleep, he adds.
On a windy day in pollen season, a pair of sunglasses may help shield your eyes from airborne allergens, according to O'Connell. For extra protection, try a pair of sunglasses with side shields or even a pair of goggles.
Beware of the air.
"Air pollution may augment allergies and may actually induce people to have allergies," Montanaro says. He recommends staying outside as little as possible on smoggy days or wearing a surgical mask, especially if you exercise outside. "The mask won't remove everything, but it will help," he adds.
Make your house a no-smoking zone.
"Don't allow smoking in your house or apartment," O'Connell says. Tobacco smoke is a notorious irritant, either causing or aggravating respiratory allergies.
Keep the windows shut.
Most Americans, except for those who have jobs that keep them outdoors, spend most of their time inside. During pollen season, this can be a terrific advantage for those with pollen allergies, according to O'Connell. "The bottom line, for pollen allergies, is keeping the windows shut," he says. "Closed windows will keep pollen out of the house or apartment. For pollen sufferers, during the pollen season, there is really no such thing as fresh air." Air purifiers may help eliminate indoor pollen, but they tend to stir up dust, he adds.
[To Be Continued]
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