You can’t prevent allergies, but you can avoid exposure to the allergens that set off your allergy symptoms. And you can relieve allergy symptoms through a combination of self-management and doctor-supervised treatments.
Avoiding your allergy triggers
Pet dander, peanuts, pollen, or whatever else — is the starting point of an effective anti-allergy defense. This, of course, requires knowing what you’re allergic to. (So, the true starting point is seeing your doctor and being tested for allergies.)
Self-Management of Allergies
You can buy many allergy medications over the counter (OTC) without a prescription to manage symptoms. These include: Antihistamines, which help stop symptoms such as sneezing, runny nose and itchy, watery eyes. They stop the symptom-causing histamines, the chemicals your body sends out in reaction to allergens. Antihistamines are available as pills, liquids, and nasal sprays. Decongestants, which open your airways, relieve sinus pressure, and reduce swelling in your nose. They are available as pills, liquids, and nasal sprays. They should not be used for more than a few days, as overuse can worsen symptoms. Saline sprays, rinses, and gels, which help soothe and moisturize your nose and remove mucus and crust. Steroid nasal sprays, which help lessen nasal congestion and swelling, runny noses and sneezing. These should be used only with your doctor’s recommendation. Medications that combine an antihistamine and decongestant also are available. All OTC medications should be taken as directed. Consult your doctor’s office or pharmacist when you have questions.
Physician-Supervised Allergy Treatment
Knowing what triggers your allergies is important so you can avoid them. When OTC remedies don’t work, your physician may: Write you a prescription for a stronger or different type of drug. If you suffer from swelling and inflammation from allergies, including allergic asthma, your doctor may prescribe corticosteroids. These are available as nasal sprays or oral medications and must be taken under doctor supervision. Long-term use raises the risk of side effects. Refer you to an allergist or ear, nose and throat specialist who can test you to determine if allergy shots — or immunotherapy — could help you. Immunotherapy shots introduce small amounts of an allergen over several months to help your body adjust and reduce your symptoms. In reaction to the shots, your body produces infection-fighting antibodies. Immunotherapy has been shown to reduce allergy symptoms in 80 to 90 percent of patients. In many cases, the therapy completely relieves symptoms.
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