By Gilda Morales, ANP, DC
If you are one of the very few people that are not suffering from allergies, consider yourself extremely lucky. This allergy season seems especially severe because of extenuating circumstances. The pipeline construction has stirred up very fine dust that together with the usual culprits such as pollen from non-bearing mulberry trees and cedar, has made this a miserable spring. Unfortunately, there is little relief in sight from the severe drought plaguing most of west Texas.
Aside from moving to your timeshare in Key West, there are some other allergy management strategies that will not completely cure allergies but relieve most of the symptoms.
Most people take allergy medications, such as antihistamines like Claritin or Zyrtec, when they get allergy symptoms, which usually include itchy eyes, runny nose, sneezing, and an itchy throat. In reality, by the time these symptoms appear, it is too late. Most of these common, over-the-counter medications are effective if take before the symptoms appear and are more effective if taken every day, at the same time, during the entire allergy season.
Nasal sprays, such as Nasacort and Flonase, are glucocorticoids, which prevent inflammatory responses to allergic triggers, but are also more effective if used daily throughout allergy season. Both are available now without a prescription and are extremely effective. If the main symptom is itchy eyes, there are allergy eye drops available without a prescription that provides long lasting relief in a short time.
For severe symptoms that do not respond to oral or nasal medications, a seasonal injection of a powerful steroid, such as Kenalog or Celestone, is sometimes the answer and can sometimes give relief for months. However, these medications are not without potential adverse effects for some people, including headache, increased blood pressure, and increased blood sugar in diabetics. More commonly, patients experience increased hunger and difficulty sleeping for a few days after receiving the injection, but the adverse effects usually resolve quickly.