With all the amazing weather we’ve been experiencing, there’s no doubt that allergy season is here! Dealing with itchy, watery eyes, a dripping nose, itchy skin, chest congestion and other symptoms is not fun, so let’s take a look at common causes of allergies, as well as some key items every allergy sufferer should have on hand to help get through the day.
Our genetic background, environmental factors like air quality – a major concern in Arizona – or even a compromised immune system can predispose us to having allergies. First-born children are also more likely than their siblings to develop seasonal allergies. Hormone imbalances also play a role in allergies. Women in perimenopause or menopause may begin to experience allergies the first time in their lives, because underlying estrogen deficiencies can exacerbate allergy symptoms and contribute to increased upper respiratory and sinus infections.
Allergans are not always inhaled. Sometimes we ingest them. Many don’t realize that our gut is the Mission Control center for our immune system. Allergans and additives in the types of foods we eat can overstimulate and irritate our gut, creating even more symptoms, underscoring the importance of maintaining a healthy diet containing lots of fresh, unprocessed foods.
The Allergy Survival Kit
A good decongestant can help ease congestion by reducing swelling and opening up the nasal passages, and it’s often combined with an antihistamine for maximum relief. Antihistamines help reduce or block histamines, which are the compounds released by our cells in response to injuries or inflammatory or allergic reactions. Histamines cause mucous membranes to swell, as well as symptoms likes runny noses, watery eyes and itchy skin rashes called hives.
Antihistamines come in many forms, like eye drops, tablets, capsules, liquids and nasal sprays. They are available over the counter and by prescription. These are best taken at night before bed so they’re in full force when you get up to face the day. Hydrocortisone creams can help ease itching and irritation of hives or skin rashes.
If you’re a severe allergy sufferer or asthmatic, you may also need an inhaler. The bronchodilators in the inhaled mist help open airways so you can breathe more freely. Those at risk for anaphylactic shock should always carry an EpiPen® in case of emergency. EpiPen is an auto-injector containing a dose of epinephrine for emergency treatment of life-threatening reactions to allergans like bee stings, nuts, shellfish, eggs and milk. Those at risk for this kind of reaction should always wear a Medic Alert bracelet. It can mean the difference between life and death.