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Hay Fever (allergic rhinitis) Causes
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Hay fever (allergic rhinitis)

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GENERAL INFORMATION

Allergies
• Anaphylaxis
• Food allergy
• Hay fever
• Hives and angiedema

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Treatment

Your allergist will conduct a thorough history and physical examination and may recommend skin testing. Skin testing helps determine which allergens you're most sensitive to. Allergy blood tests also may be used. Your doctor then can design a treatment program specifically for you.

Medications to treat hay fever include:

  • Antihistamines. These medications counteract histamine, an inflammatory substance released when your immune system encounters an allergen. Over-the-counter (OTC) antihistamines that have been available for many years include diphenhydramine (Benadryl) and chlorpheniramine (Chlor-Trimeton). These drugs may relieve your itching eyes and nose, but they often cause drowsiness and dehydration. Loratadine (Claritin), recently made available over-the-counter, doesn't cause these side effects. However, it may not be effective for everyone. Ask your doctor about prescription antihistamines, including fexofenadine (Allegra) and cetirizine (Zyrtec), if your symptoms persist. Both drugs are relatively nonsedating, but Zyrtec may cause drowsiness in some people. Although antihistamines usually can keep you from sneezing, they're not quite as effective for your clogged nose.

  • Decongestants. These medications, often used in combination with antihistamines, are available in liquid, tablet and nasal spray forms both with and without a prescription. Don't use OTC nasal sprays for more than a few days in a row because continued use can actually cause nasal congestion, referred to as rebound congestion.

  • Leukotriene modifiers. These medications block the action of leukotrienes, which can cause hay fever symptoms. Montelukast (Singulair) is a tablet taken once a day.

  • Nasal sprays. Nasalcrom, a nasal spray containing the anti-inflammatory agent cromolyn sodium, is available without a prescription. One advantage of using Nasalcrom is that it has few side effects even for children as young as 6. However, many people find Nasalcrom only modestly effective in controlling symptoms.

  • Corticosteroids. For more troublesome symptoms, corticosteroid nasal sprays, such as beclomethasone (Beconase), fluticasone (Flonase), triamcinolone (Nasacort), budesonide (Rhinocort), flunisolide (Nasarel, Nasalide) and mometasone (Nasonex), can help you breathe better. These corticosteroid nasal sprays are the most effective treatment for hay fever. An occasional bothersome side effect for some people is irritation of the nasal passages. These nasal sprays can take three to 10 days to provide maximum relief, so start them before the season hits or on the first day of your symptoms. Give them an adequate trial, as you can't expect results after the first day of use. Corticosteroid nasal sprays can do wonders for your nose, but may not relieve your itchy eyes.

  • Eyedrops. Drops containing antihistamines or decongestants can help relieve itchy eyes. Both OTC and prescription eyedrops are available.

If you are taking any other medications or have a chronic health condition, talk to your doctor or pharmacist before starting these therapies, to be sure you're not at risk of a drug interaction or other adverse effect.

If medications don't relieve your hay fever symptoms or if your symptoms are chronic, allergy shots (immunotherapy) may help you. The solutions given in allergy shots contain a small amount of the substances (allergens) to which you're allergic. Slowly increasing the dose of the allergy shot over time allows you to become desensitized to the allergy-causing substance. Ask your doctor whether allergy shots are right for you. You generally need to get the shots regularly for one to two years for maximum benefit, although most people begin to experience significant relief and reduced need for medication within one year of beginning the shots.

Self-care

It's not possible to completely avoid allergens, but you can reduce your symptoms by minimizing exposure. If you're allergic to pollen or molds, follow these tips:

  • Keep your windows and doors closed and air conditioning on at home and in your car during your allergy season.

  • Use a good air filter at home.

  • Run a dehumidifier at home to reduce humidity, which may allow mold to grow.

  • Stay indoors during the pollen season.

  • Keep your house especially clean during the pollen season to reduce levels of pollen and mold.

  • Avoid mowing the lawn or raking leaves — which stirs up both pollens and molds — as much as possible.

If you're allergic to dust mites:

  • Use dustproof encasements on your mattress and pillows.

  • Repair any water or moisture problems in your home.

  • Run an air conditioner with an allergy-type filter to lower humidity and filter dust particles.

  •  Remove carpeting in your home if you're highly sensitive to dust mites.

If you're allergic to pets:

  • Remove the animal from the house if possible.

  • Keep your pet out of the bedroom.

 

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This information is provided for general medical education purposes only and is not meant to substitute for the independent medical judgment of a physician relative to diagnostic and treatment options of a specific patient's medical condition.
In no event will The DrEddyClinic.com be liable for any decision made or action taken in reliance upon the information provided through this web site.

 


 



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