CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) — Need relief from allergy symptoms? You’re not alone. A warm February brought high pollen counts early this year.
Reducing symptoms starts with limiting exposure. Staying inside on days when the pollen count is high can help prevent your sinuses from being bombarded. You can also roll up your windows and turn on the air conditioning. The filter helps sort out the particles that you can’t see in the air.
Doctors also recommend showering after being outside for an extended period of time, and especially before bed. Pollen may cling to your hairs, eye brows and skin.
Dr. Meredith Moore at Charleston Allergy and Asthma also recommends starting treatment before severe symptoms hit.
“Once your symptoms start, it’s much harder to get control than if you prevent the symptoms with medication with precaution”
She says you can use an over-the-counter antihistamine or a nasal steroid prior to seeing symptoms. She says a when you see the pollen you’re allergic to spike, it’s a good time to begin taking precautionary measures.
Both nasal steriods and antihistamines can help with itching, congestion, sneezing and other symptoms, but they work better when used before reactions. She says using either one outside of the recommended usage on the box, should be done under the direction of a doctor.
Doctor Moore says if symptoms still persist, “More than several weeks, or over the counter medications aren’t helping you, then it’s definitely time to seek expert advice.”
Allergists begin by finding out what you’re allergic to specifically. Through prick skin testing they can identify your allergies in about 15 minutes. They may help you find ways to avoid exposure, or prescribe medication.
For long term treatment, Dr. Moore says allergy shots are the best, most cost effective options.
“Allergy shots are a 3 to 5 year treatment but at the end of it the vast majority of patients can stop shots and continue to see benefits for many many years afterwards.”
It’s a process called immunotherapy. Each shot targets what patients are allergic to specifically.
Dr. Moore says, “Allergy immunotherapy is a great long term option that can really help people get relief.”