How To Treat Allergies
There are various ways to combat unpleasant allergy symptoms, including:
- Medicine: An array of medicinesboth over-the-counter and prescriptioneffectively and safely treat allergy symptoms. Different types of medications treat allergy symptoms in different ways, ranging from reducing swelling to keeping your body from releasing histamines.
- Immunotherapy treatments: These treatments consist of giving a patient either an allergy shot or sublingual immunotherapy tablet with a dosage of the allergen to lower their sensitivity to it gradually. With allergy shots, you need three to six months of injections with increasingly higher doses of the allergen to build up immunity or tolerance. Once youve reached an effective dose, you can expect to receive an injection every two to four weeks. Allergen immunotherapy may reduce the need for medications to control symptoms.
Fight Your Toughest Allergies
What Do The Results Of An Allergy Test Mean
Allergy test results may be:
- Negative: You arent allergic to that substance. Its rare to get a false negative allergy test result .
- Positive: Youre allergic to that substance. Note that even when tests correctly show that you have an allergy, it doesnt necessarily mean that youll react to that allergen. A false positive test result is possible, especially from a blood test. A false positive means the results show you have an allergy when you dont.
Path To Improved Health
You can take antihistamines in different ways depending on your symptoms. Some people take them only when they have symptoms. Others experience symptoms every day, so they take the antihistamine every day. Sometimes people take them before they are going to be exposed to something they are allergic to. This could include an animal or certain kinds of plants or flowers.
There are many different brands of antihistamines that you can buy over the counter. Some work in different ways. For example, some are designed to work for 4 to 6 hours. Others last for 12 to 24 hours. Make sure you read the label carefully. Follow the directions for how often to take the antihistamine.
Ask your doctor which OTC antihistamine is best for you based on your symptoms.
If you have severe allergies or allergies that affect you year-round, tell you doctor. It could be that you need a prescription allergy medication. The difference between these at OTCs is that prescription antihistamines can come in higher doses.
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How Do Antihistamines Work
When you are exposed to an allergen — for example, ragweed pollen — it triggers your immune system. People with allergies have an exaggerated immune response. Immune system cells known as “mast cells” release a substance called histamine, which attaches to receptors in blood vessels, causing them to enlarge. Histamine also binds to other receptors causing redness, swelling, itching, and changes in secretions. By blocking histamine and keeping it from binding to receptors, antihistamines prevent these symptoms.
Can I Take My Prescription Antihistamine With Other Medicines
You shouldnt take prescription antihistamines if you also are taking certain other prescription medicines. These include erythromycin , or certain medicines used to treat fungal infections. These include itraconazole or ketoconazole. When your doctor gives you a prescription, always ask if its safe to use with the other medicines youre taking. Your pharmacist can also tell you what is safe to take. If you arent sure, ask the pharmacist or your doctor before taking another medicine.
If Your Allergy Symptoms Worsen See A Doctor
“A long-acting antihistamine, either alone or in combination with a nasal steroid spray, will relieve most people’s allergy symptoms,” says Dr. Hays.
If you’re taking over-the-counter allergy medicines and your symptoms continue or worsen, it may be a sign of a more serious condition, such as chronic sinus infections or sinus polyps. Follow up with your doctor if your symptoms are serious or frequent.
Questions To Ask Your Doctor
- Do I need an antihistamine?
- Can I take one over the counter, or do I need a prescription?
- Which over-the-counter type of antihistamine is the best for my symptoms?
- What are the side effects of this type or brand?
- Is there anything I should avoid doing while Im taking an antihistamine?
- How long should I take it?
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How Do I Know If I Need An Allergy Test
If youre allergic to allergens in the air like dust, pollen or pet dander, you may develop allergic rhinitis. Also known as hay fever, this allergic reaction causes:
Food allergy symptoms typically occur within 30 minutes of food ingestion but may occur up to two hours after ingestion. People with food allergies may experience:
- Skin symptoms such as hives, swelling of the face, lips or tongue, generalized itching.
- Respiratory symptoms such as coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, chest or throat tightness.
- GI symptoms such as nausea and vomiting, abdominal pain and cramps, vomiting and diarrhea.
- Cardiovascular symptoms such as pale skin, weak pulse, dizziness or lightheadedness.
A patch test, performed by a dermatologist, is used to diagnose these types of reactions.
They’re Not Recommended For Everyone
Most adultsand children ages five and upcan get allergy shots. But if you or your child has severe, uncontrolled asthma, your healthcare provider may recommend against them. “In our practice, if a patient’s asthma is flaring or even if they’re sick, we generally wait to give the shot until they’re feeling better,” Dr. Dziadzio said.
Women who become pregnant while in the maintenance phase of allergy shots can continue their treatment, according to the AAAAI. But women shouldn’t start allergy shots for the first time, or increase their dosage, while pregnant.
Certain medicines, like beta blockers, can reduce the effectiveness of epinephrinethe lifesaving drug used to treat anaphylactic shock. Because anaphylaxis is a rare but serious risk for people getting allergy shots, they may not be recommended for people who take these drugs.
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Fast Facts On Treating An Allergic Reaction:
- Most minor allergy symptoms can be treated with antihistamines, corticosteroids, or decongestants.
- Saline nasal rinses can be used for congestion-related allergy symptoms.
- Corticosteroid creams can treat skin rashes related to allergies.
- Immunotherapy is a long-term treatment option for chronic allergy symptoms.
- Anaphylaxis is a medical emergency, and people should call 911 if they suspect someone is having an anaphylactic reaction.
An allergic reaction occurs when cells in the immune system interpret a foreign substance or allergen as harmful.
The immune system overreacts to these allergens and produces histamine, which is a chemical that causes allergy symptoms, such as inflammation, sneezing, and coughing.
Mild allergic reactions can usually be treated with home remedies and over-the-counter medications.
However, chronic allergies need treatment from a medical professional. Severe allergic reactions always require emergency medical care.
Many mild to moderate allergic reactions can be treated at home or with OTC medications. The following treatments are commonly used to reduce the symptoms of an allergic reaction:
Why Do Healthcare Providers Perform Allergy Tests
Your healthcare provider may perform an allergy test if you have allergy symptoms that bother you. Providers also perform allergy tests on people who have asthma. The test can identify allergy triggers that can worsen asthma symptoms or bring on an asthma attack.
You may also need a test if youve had a severe allergic reaction called anaphylaxis. This potentially life-threatening problem can cause hives or swelling, breathing difficulty and/or a sharp drop in blood pressure that brings on anaphylactic shock. Your health history along with allergy testing is used to determine the cause of severe reaction. If you have had an anaphylactic reaction or may be at risk for one, then you may need to carry an epinephrine auto-injector to treat the symptoms.
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Here Are A Few Tips To Help Allergy Sufferers Enjoy The Beautiful Spring Weather:
Oral allergy medications
Oral medications are especially useful for mild allergy symptoms, and many are available over the counter.
Nonsedating antihistamines can relieve itching, sneezing, runny nose and watery eyes. Options include:
- Loratadine , cetirizine , levocetirizine and fexofenadine all are available without prescription.
- Oral decongestants, like pseudoephedrine and phenylephrine can ease stuffiness, and pseudoephedrine is often combined with an antihistamine. These medications are generally well-tolerated, with minimal side effects.
Common side effects
Oral decongestants cause insomnia and elevated blood pressure for some people, and antihistamines can cause drowsiness. If you find that one brand of antihistamine makes you sleepy, try a different one to see if you tolerate that better.
Older antihistamines, like diphenhydramine , are more likely to cause drowsiness compared to the newer antihistamines. Be careful about driving or working around heavy machinery if you take diphenhydramine.
Nasal steroid sprays
For more persistent allergy symptoms, nasal steroid sprays often are the best treatment option. Nasal steroid sprays block inflammation and swelling caused by airborne irritants and allergens, and prevent allergy symptoms.
Over-the-counter steroid nasal sprays include:
However, you may first want to know more details about allergy shots before considering:
Topics in this Post
Allergies To Sulfonamide Antibiotics
Sulfonamide antibiotics can cause allergic reactions, ranging from mild or severe rashes to anaphylaxis. Several sulfonamide antibiotics are available with a prescription in Australia, either alone or in combination with another type of antibiotic. If you have an allergic reaction after taking a combination antibiotic, you should visit your doctor to talk about which antibiotic is causing your allergy.Allergic reactions to sulfonamide antibiotics do not make it more likely that you will be allergic to sulfur powder, sulfite preservatives, or non-antibiotic sulfonamide medication, such as pain-relievers or water tablets .
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Can You Take Two Types Of Allergy Pills Together
There isnt a clear-cut answer to this question because it varies depending on the types of allergy pills. Dr. Aronica breaks down the dos and donts of allergy medication mixing.
Who Shouldnt Take Allergy Medications
Non-sedating antihistamines are relatively safe for most patients, but you should not take older antihistamines if you have prostate problems or glaucoma. You should not take decongestants if you have high blood pressure. If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, consult a healthcare professional before using allergy medications .
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Causes Of Allergies To Medication
Any medication could cause an allergic reaction, but some are more likely to than others, including:
- aspirin and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
- antibiotics penicillin and sulfonamide antibiotics
- chemotherapy drugs for treating cancer
- medication for autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis
- corticosteroid creams or lotions
- medication for people with human immunodeficiency virus infection
Of these types, the two that commonly cause allergic reactions are aspirin and similar pain-relieving medication, and sulfonamide antibiotics.
Find Out What The Pollen Level Is In Your Area
Knowing the pollen count can help you plan an attack for allergy symptoms. How can you find out? Just turn on your favorite weather report. Many reports include the pollen count in your area. Or, go online to Pollen.com.
Taking a trip? The pollen count may be higher where youre headed. Check the count at your destination and take along medications just in case.
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Symptoms Of An Allergic Reaction
But while your bodys intentions might be good, that natural response can trigger symptoms like:
- Swelling in the mouth or throat.
- Rapid or difficult breathing.
Treatments For Allergic Reactions
Over-the-counter antihistamines and decongestants may relieve minor symptoms of an allergic reaction.
Antihistamines prevent symptoms such as hives by blocking histamine receptors so your body doesnt react to the allergens. help clear your nose and are especially effective for seasonal allergies. But dont take them for more than three days.
These medications are available in tablets, eye drops, and nasal sprays. Many OTC drugs also cause drowsiness, so avoid taking them before driving or doing work that requires a lot of concentration.
Swelling, redness, and itching may be reduced with ice and topical creams that contain corticosteroids.
Make an appointment with your doctor if OTC drugs dont work. Call your doctor right away if you have an allergic reaction to the medication.
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How To Take Antihistamines
Take your medicine as advised by the pharmacist or doctor, or as described in the leaflet that comes with it.
Before taking an antihistamine, you should know:
- how to take it including whether it needs to be taken with water or food, or how to use it correctly
- how much to take this can vary depending on things such as your age and weight
- when to take it including how many times a day you can take it and when to take it
- how long to take it for some types can be used for a long time, but some are only recommended for a few days
- what to do if you miss a dose or take too much
The advice varies depending on the exact medicine you’re taking. If you’re not sure how to take your medicine, ask a pharmacist.
Difficulty Breathing Or Throat Swelling
Dont delay getting medical attention for anaphylaxis, which is when allergic reactions take a severe turn. Dial 911 and do it ASAP.
Calling 911 is better than driving to the emergency department, says Dr. Kapil. Emergency medical technicians in an ambulance have protocols and access to treatments specifically for severe allergic reactions.
In addition, many people with potentially life-threatening allergies carry an injector that can deliver a dose of epinephrine . This shot of adrenaline typically delivered in your thigh can help reverse severe allergic reactions while you await medical care.
Use the epinephrine injector if a reaction is serious. Your or someones life may depend on taking quick action.
Food allergies are the most common trigger of anaphylaxis. Severe reactions also can be brought on insect stings, latex or medications.
An allergic reaction that makes it difficult to breathe can create a sense of impending doom, says Dr. Kapil. Understand that an anaphylactic reaction can be an intense situation. Its important to remain calm.
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They Can Take A Few Years To Really Work
Allergy shots aren’t a quick fix. While some people may start to feel better during the build-up phase of their treatment, most people won’t experience noticeable improvement until they’ve been in the maintenance phase for six to 18 months, Dr. Dziadzio said.
In fact, a February 2017 JAMA study found that it took three full years for allergy shots for hay fever to be more effective than placebo shots. The maintenance phase for most allergy shots is usually continued for three to five years. Some patients experience long-lasting relief after that, and some may need continued treatment.
Allergy Medication For Toddlers
Allergy medications are not recommended for use in children under the age of two years without out the advice of a physician. In this group, mild symptoms can be managed using non-drug methods such as saline spray for a stuffy or dry nose and/or a vaporizer/humidifier for congestion. If the allergy is in the form of a rash, emollient creams may offer some relief. For more severe allergy symptoms widespread rash, wheezing, red, watery eyes parents should consult a pediatrician.
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Treatments For Food Allergies
The best remedies for food allergies usually entail avoiding foods that trigger an allergic reaction. If you accidentally come in contact or eat the food youre allergic to, OTC drugs can temper the reaction.
However, these drugs only help relieve hives or itching. Oral cromolyn can help your other symptoms. Its only available by prescription, so talk to your doctor.
You can also treat severe food allergies with epinephrine.
Which Allergy Medications Can You Mix
Depending on your symptoms, some allergy medications can be safe to use in combination. Generally, you can use an antihistamine with a decongestant .
However, you dont want to double up allergy medications. For example, you generally wouldnt want to take Claritin in the morning and Zyrtec in the evening .
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