According to the American College of Asthma, Allergy and Immunology (ACAAI), more than 50 million people suffer from allergies each year. If you’re one of the unlucky ones, here’s a quick guide to understanding and fighting back against sinus problems.
While most people blame the environment for their allergies, the problem actually comes from within. There isn’t anything wrong with pollen or pet dander; your immune system is just reacting to them in ways that it shouldn’t. For whatever reason, your body has decided that these harmless pathogens are something to be eliminated. All of your symptoms are a side product of your immune system trying to fight off what it sees as a threat.
Here are just a few things you might notice if you suffer from allergies:
– Runny nose
– Itchy or watery eyes
– Pressure in the nasal cavity
– Nasal congestion
– Hives or other rashes
– A “full” feeling in the ears
– General malaise
No two people will experience the same combination of allergy symptoms, so it’s important to note exactly what you’re feeling before you take your complaints to a doctor. The more information they have, the more effectively they can help you.
The most common allergy test is something called “skin testing” or “prick testing.” Different substances like pollen and peanut extract will be injected into your skin to see if your body reacts. In most cases, doctors check for multiple allergies at once; they’ll draw a series of boxes on your back or forearm and prick your skin with one substance for each area.
If you’re worried about exposure to allergens, you can also ask for a blood test, though these results take much longer since the blood needs to be sent away and analyzed in a lab. Blood tests also tend to be more accurate than skin tests.
There are several different ways to treat allergies:
– Medication is the most common. Your doctor might prescribe anything from antihistamines to anti-leukotrienes.
– You might also need allergy shots if your allergies are severe or recurring. Your doctor can teach you how to administer these at home so you aren’t constantly going to and from their office.
– You can also simply avoid the allergen. For example, if you’re found to be allergic to dogs, you’ll know to skip the Puppy Bowl this year.
Talk to an ear, nose and throat doctor to learn more about fighting allergies and regaining control of your life. Who says you have to spend the whole season sniffling?