Allergic rhinitis, also known as hay fever, affects approximately 20 percent of people of all ages. The most common symptoms include nasal itching, watery nasal discharge, sneezing, itchy red eyes and sore throat.
It is caused by a nasal reaction to small airborne particles called allergens (substances that cause an allergic reaction). In some people, these particles also cause reactions in the lungs (asthma) and eyes (allergic conjunctivitis). One of the first steps in treating any allergic condition is to avoid or minimize exposure to the allergens that cause the condition.
Identifying The Allergen
There are four major categories of allergens that trigger allergic rhinitis:
- Pollen (spring and summer – trees, grass; fall – ragweed)
- Insects (house dust mites, cockroaches)
- Animal allergens (skin, fur, feathers, saliva)
Tips to Avoid Each Type of Allergens
- Close the windows of your car and home.
- Use air conditioners to filter the air during times of peak symptoms.
- Use a mask while grass cutting or wood cutting.
- Avoid irritants like dust and fumes.
- Take a shower before bed. This removes allergens from hair and skin and can help reduce contamination of the bedding.
- Over-the-counter saline sprays and rinses can be used after being outdoors to wash away allergens from the nasal lining.
- Exposure to dust mites can be reduced by encasing pillows, mattresses, box springs, comforters, and furniture in mite-impermeable barriers.
- Wash sheets and blankets weekly in warm water with detergent and dry them in a dryer.
- Vacuum with a vacuum cleaner equipped with a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter.
- Dust regularly.
- Don’t sleep on upholstered furniture (e.g., couches).
- Reduce the amount of clutter in the room.
- Clean carpets and drapes regularly.
- It may be necessary to use pest control methods.
- Keep food and trash in covered containers, clean food scraps from the floor and counter-tops.
- Seal cracks in the walls, door and floors.
- If you are found to be allergic to a pet, the most effective option is to remove the pet from the home. Limiting an animal to a certain area in the house is not effective because allergens are carried on clothing or spread in the air.
- Clean carpets, sofas, curtain and bedding regularly.
- To reduce the growth of mold at home, it is necessary to remove existing mold and also to reduce humidity to prevent future growth of mold. Humidity can be reduced by removing sources of standing water and persistent dampness.
- Remove house plants, fix leaky plumbing, correct sinks and showers that do not drain completely.
- Remove bathroom carpeting that is exposed to steam and moisture.
- Use exhaust fans in the bathroom when bathing.
- Dehumidify damp areas to levels below 50%.
- Indoor garbage pails should be regularly disinfected.
- Old books, newspapers and clothing should be discarded or donated rather than stored.
- Water damaged carpets and wall or ceiling boards should be thrown out.
We offer blood allergy testing at all our clinics. With the lab-work, you will be able to determine what kind of substances could be your specific triggers. Tests can be done for common allergens such as plant pollen, molds, dust mites, animal dander an various foods such as peanuts, eggs, wheat, shellfish and milk. Walk-in to any of our clinics and talk to our providers. No appointment is necessary at our clinics and you’ll only wait minutes to be seen. You can call ahead at (855) 9 FOR DOC and let us know you’re on the way or you can check in online.