Normally, this reaction is due to the immune systems defense mechanism against germs, but most times an allergic reaction is a response to a false alarm. Scientists believe the cause is a combination of genes and the environment, and it is estimated that allergies plague at least one out of every five Americans. Although allergies will cause sufferers to feel sick, they're generally not life-threatening. (SOURCE: NIH: National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases)
WHERE ALLERGENS ARE: Allergens are usually found in a number of places. During the spring and summer months, the most common sources are from pollen, trees, grass, and weeds. Mold, animal dander, and dust also contain allergens, and these sources are present year-round. Also not to be forgotten are the various food allergens. If it's suspected that you may be allergic to something in the air, or in your home, your doctor can do an allergy skin test to help determine what exactly is causing the allergy. Your doctor may also do a blood test called radioallergosorbent test (RAST). Knowledge is power, and identifying what is causing the allergies in your system will allow you and your doctor to decide the best method for treatment.
SYMPTOMS: Knowing the symptoms of allergies are essential to get treated. Some common symptoms are:
- Watery eyes
- Stuffy or runny nose
- Itchiness in nose, eyes, and roof of mouth
STOPPING THE SNIFFLES: There are many ways to alleviate the bothersome symptoms of allergies. Doctors can prescribe antihistamines, nasal steroid sprays, and eye drops, but without a prescription, sufferers can buy over-the-counter medicines like decongestants, or cromolyn sodium: a nasal spray that helps prevent allergic reactions.
For a holistic approach, using a humidifier, or breathing in moist air two to four times per day aids in decongesting. Also, avoiding harsh chemical fumes and cigarette smoke would be beneficial. Remember to drink more water, juice, and decaf tea; it thins out the mucous, and increases drainage.
Lastly, create your own nasal spray using salt, baking soda, and water to keep sinuses clean and clear. However, be careful not to overuse the spray or you may become overly dependent. (SOURCE: webmd.com/allergies)
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