By Thomas L. Johnson II, MD –
Not only are temperatures and weather conditions changing, but those annoying allergies you get every year, around this time, are likely to hit again. But don’t worry just yet, there are ways to fight the annoyance so you can be as allergy-free as possible this year.
Sometimes it is hard to distinguish whether the symptoms you are experiencing are due to a cold or allergies. The clear difference between the two is colds usually tend to be short-lived whereas allergies can run for weeks or even months. The most common allergy is pollen (also called hay fever), which causes symptoms to flare-up due to the pollen grains floating through the air. Allergies tend to occur when the seasons change and you may notice your allergies approaching at almost the exact same time every year.
Those who can tell the seasons changed without even looking at the calendar experience some of the following symptoms:
- Runny and stuffy nose
- Watery eyes
- Sore throat
- Itchy eyes and nose
- Dark circles under the eyes
People with allergies to certain pollens can also develop an itchy throat and mouth — a condition called oral allergy syndrome (OAS) — when they eat banana, cucumber, melon, or certain other fruits and vegetables.
Airborne allergens can also trigger asthma, a condition in which the airways narrow, making breathing difficult and leading to coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath.
Food reactions can lead to hives, abdominal cramps, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and coughing. Severe reactions — called anaphylaxis — can cause the lips, tongue, or throat to swell and make breathing difficult.
A visit to an allergist can help discover the trigger for your watery, itchy eyes and runny nose. After looking into your medical history and asking you about your symptoms, the allergy specialist will likely do a skin test, which involves scratching the skin with a tiny sample of the allergen, or injecting it just under the skin. If you’re allergic to the substance, the area will turn red and itchy. This means that your body is producing antibodies to the allergen.
Another option for diagnosing allergies is the radioallergosorbent test (RAST) — a blood test that detects antibody levels to a particular allergen. These types of tests can also be used to check for the source of food allergies.
You may find relief from a runny nose, watery eyes, and itchiness with one or more of the following:
- Prescription corticosteroids, usually given in the form of a nasal spray, reduce inflammation in the nose.
- Antihistamines reduce sneezing, sniffling, and itching by blocking the action of histamine (the substance produced during an allergic reaction) in the body.
- Decongestants clear mucus out of the nasal passageways to relieve congestion and swelling.
- Antihistamine/decongestants combine the effects of both drugs.
- Antihistamine eye drops block the histamine that leads to the allergic reaction.
- Allergy shots expose your body to gradually increasing doses of the allergen until you become tolerant to it. They can relieve your symptoms for a longer period of time than oral and nasal allergy medications.
Even though you can buy some allergy medications without a prescription, it’s a good idea to talk to an allergist first to ensure sure you choose the right medication for your specific symptoms. Always remember to read the packaging label as some of these products are only meant to be used for a few days.
While nasal sprays and over-the-counter products may be effective for some, others may need to go on allergy shots or even a combination of therapies.
If seasonal allergies are affecting your ability to enjoy the outdoors? Receive professional treatment for your asthma and other allergic reactions from our Board Certified allergists in Ocala and The Villages, Florida. Allergy & Asthma Care of Florida, Inc. is owned and operated by a Board Certified Allergist that treats children and adults for allergies and asthma.
Our practitioners can prescribe medication for allergies and asthma, as well as provide education on our medication and therapies so that you know how and why they work. Taking medicine may not be enough in some cases, which is why we also educate our patients on proactive ways to avoid asthma or allergy flare-ups. We also offer pneumonia and flu vaccines to help our patients be ready for the upcoming winter season. Call today to schedule your appointment 352-622-1136. Don’t let allergy symptoms get the best of you this year.
We have two locations to help serve your needs.
Ocala Medical Park – 1500 SE Magnolia Ext. Suites 203 & 204
The Villages Regional Medical Center East Campus – 1501 US Hwy 441 N, Suite 1406
Thomas L. Johnson II, MD
Dr. Johnson is the newest member of our team. He received his Doctorate of Medicine from the University of Kentucky in Lexington in 2000. He performed his residency in Pediatrics at the Wright State University Integrated Pediatric Residency Program in Dayton, Ohio from 2000-2003 and then served as Pediatric Chief Resident at Wright-Patterson Medical Center from 2003-2004. He completed his fellowship in Allergy & Immunology at Wilford Hall Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas in 2006. Dr. Johnson served as an Officer in the United States Air Force from 2000-2009. He is Board Certified in Pediatrics as well as Allergy and Immunology.