Enjoy the Season: Spring Allergy Treatment
Enjoy the Season: Spring Allergy Treatment
Spring is here, and that means longer days and warmer weather. It also means allergy season in the Minnesota River Valley kicks off with the release of tree pollen. Luckily, allergy treatments offered at River’s Edge Hospital & Clinic can ease symptoms so you can enjoy the outdoors.
Seasonal allergies are often caused by pollen, which is released into the air by trees, grass and weeds from April to October. Other allergens, like dust, mold and animal dander, can cause allergy symptoms year-round.
Seasonal allergy symptoms include:
- Congested nasal passages
- Itchy, watery eyes
- Runny nose
- Swollen eyes
Other types of allergies include food allergies, drug allergies, skin allergies, eye allergies and insect sting allergies.
You can lessen seasonal allergy symptoms by taking medication, getting allergy shots or avoiding exposure to pollen. Many allergy medications are available by prescription and over the counter. These include:
- Antihistamines block histamines, which are produced by your immune system when your body reacts to allergens. Antihistamines can be effective at stopping itching, sneezing and runny nose, but they can cause side effects, including sleepiness, dizziness, reduced appetite and irritability.
- Cromolyn sodium nasal spray blocks the chemical release that causes allergy symptoms. Unlike other nasal sprays, cromolyn sodium must be used several times a day and can cause side effects such as itching or burning in your nose, sneezing, headache and stomach pain.
- Decongestants can help relieve nasal stuffiness by constricting the membranes of the nose. Possible side effects include dizziness, insomnia, anxiety and high blood pressure, so this type of medicine is not appropriate for everyone.
- Nasal corticosteroid sprays reduce inflammation in your nose. They can reduce all allergy symptoms and have few side effects, making them one of the most effective choices for many people.
Medications work best if you begin taking them a few weeks prior to allergy season, so they can help prevent symptoms before they start.
If you can’t find relief from over-the-counter medications, speak to a healthcare provider. The nurse practitioner and physician’s assistant at River’s Edge Hospital & Clinic’s Urgent Care Department may be able to offer a prescription medication that can help you.
Treating allergies by avoiding potential triggers can help. Ease pollen allergy symptoms by:
- Keeping windows and doors closed, especially during the day.
- Showering and changing your clothes after outdoor activities.
- Spending less time outdoors when pollen counts are high, typically between 5 and 10 a.m.
- Wearing glasses or sunglasses to reduce the amount of pollen getting into your eyes.
- Washing your bedding once a week.
If you have severe chronic allergies, medications and reduced pollen exposure may not provide enough relief. In this case, your healthcare provider may recommend immunotherapy, often called allergy shots. Immunotherapy decreases sensitivity to allergens by injecting them in gradually increasing doses until you develop immunity and are no longer bothered by the allergens.
Immunotherapy treatment happens in two phases:
- The build-up phase, during which you’ll receive shots once or twice a week. The shots contain increasing amounts of allergens that help you build a tolerance. This phase may take up to six months.
- The maintenance phase, which occurs once the effective dose is determined. During this phase, you may receive treatments every two to four weeks. Your healthcare provider will decide what’s right for you.
It may take up to 12 months of the maintenance phase to see an improvement. After three to five years, many people no longer have symptoms and can stop getting shots.
Speak with your healthcare provider about the right allergy treatment for you. If you would like to see a friendly provider without waiting for an appointment, visit River’s Edge Hospital & Clinic’s Urgent Care Department. Our Urgent Care Department is open to walk-in patients seven days a week.
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