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The arrival of spring brings is rising temperatures, new plant life and more daylight. And it has also brought what approximately 40 million Americans dread: allergies.

Allergies keep thousands of children away from their classrooms and many adults from work. While effective treatments abound, allergies and their complications are often neglected, leaving sufferers miserable for months. Although most allergies are not life threatening, they may dramatically affect a person's performance and quality of life. The chronic symptoms—sneezing, sinus headaches and runny nose—associated with nasal allergies can wear a person down and interfere with work and other activities.

What is an Allergy?

A basic understanding of allergies should help one seek appropriate treatment. "An allergy is an overreaction to ordinarily harmless substances called allergens," Dr. Brian Weeks, otolarynologist at Alvarado Hospital. "Common allergens include pollens, molds, house dust mites, and animal dander. In trying to rid the body of the allergens, the body's immune system releases the chemical histamine, which causes the trademark symptoms—sneezing, runny or stuffed nose, and itchy, watery eyes."

Treatment for Nose Woes

The first step in the treatment of allergies is getting tested in order to determine the allergen involved. Once the offending allergen has been identified, steps can be taken to avoid it. If avoidance is impossible, anti-allergy medications are recommended. If symptoms persist, then steps should be taken to treat the root cause of the allergy. Injections to desensitize people to allergens may well be the best method of treatment when all else fails.

"In many individuals the allergy itself maybe tolerable while complications caused by the allergy are debilitating," said Dr. Weeks. "Such complications include frequent sinus headaches and serious sinus infections in adults, and repeated respiratory and ear infections in children. In such instances also, it is best to treat the root cause of allergy."

For those who are struck with allergies, here a few simple ways to alleviate seasonal allergies:

  • Spend as little time as possible outdoors, especially on windy days.
  • Keep the doors and windows in your house shut as much as possible, especially in the bedroom.
  • At home and in the car, use an air conditioner, which filters out dust and pollen.
  • Avoid yard work that stirs up pollen. If you must rake leaves or cut the grass, cover your nose and mouth.
  • Minimize outdoor activities in the early morning (before 10 a.m.), when pollen counts are usually highest.
  • If you exercise outdoors, do it in the evening, when pollen counts are lowest.
  • If you suffer frequently from allergies, you should talk to your doctor

To find a physician who can treat your allergies, call 1-800-ALVARADO (1-800-258-2723) or click here.