Hay Fever Treatment & Relief
Reduce your exposure
Short of locking yourself indoors through spring and fall, there are a few steps you can take to reduce your exposure, and your symptoms. Reduce your exposureShort of locking yourself indoors through spring and fall, there are a few steps you can take to reduce your exposure, and your symptoms.
- Keep track of pollen counts in your area. The National Allergy Bureau posts pollen counts throughout the country at their website: http://www.aaaai.org/nab/index.cfm. I also have regular updates of pollen counts. During peak times, reduce your time outdoors.
- Keep windows closed during peak pollen times, and use the air conditioner with a HEPA filter while you’re indoors. This removes pollen from your home.
- Take Medications. Start taking topical medications a week or two before pollen rises. These include nasal cortisone sprays (Flonase, Nasonex) and eye drops containing antihistamines (Elastat, Pataday). If you have breakthrough symptoms on these topical medcines, then it’s time to add in antihistamines. The choices are Clartin, Allegra and Zyrtec. Clartin and Zytrec are over-the-counter. I think prescription Allegra has advantages of being potent and less sedating than Zytrec.
- Consider sublingual immunotherapy. Even though you may only suffer seasonal allergies for a few months of the year, those can be long intolerable months. Hay fever is a major cause of work absenteeism and “presenteeism,” (showing up, but not being effective) resulting in nearly 4 million missed or lost workdays each year, totaling more than $700 million in lost productivity. So you may want to consider allergy drops, a painless and nearly effortless way to build up immunity to pollen. It’s a good idea to start before allergy season.
After many years of suffering with hay fever and other seasonal allergies and finding little relief from medications, Dan, a nature lover and art teacher, decided he would try allergy shots. He had been reluctant, but he was finding it hard to concentrate at work, and couldn’t go out into nature to be inspired for his artwork, so he bit the bullet. He received weekly shots, until one day, a few minutes after having an injection, sweat began pouring down his face and he felt light-headed and weak. He was having an anaphylactic reaction. His doctor quickly treated him with adrenalin and he recovered, but that was the last shot he ever took.
It was a couple of years later when he came to my office looking for help. When I met him, I was struck by how pained he was by his dilemma. He wouldn’t chance trying the injections again, but was obviously still suffering from his allergies. I told Dan, who was 37 at the time, that we had another option for him called sublingual allergy immunotherapy, or allergy drops. He looked at me skeptically. I explained to him that you put the drops under your tongue, and they are considered much safer than injections because there are fewer mast cells and other pro-inflammatory cells under the tongue that could trigger an allergic reaction. Once it enters the blood stream, it’s less likely to cause a reaction. Dan was nervous but comforted by the statistics showing only rare serious reactions to allergy drops.
After testing him to assess the severity of his specific allergies—which turned out to be dust mites, trees, grass and ragweed pollen—I started him on a safe dose of the allergy drops. Dan had a mild itching in his mouth after his initial dose of the sublingual allergy drops, but nothing severe. I lowered his dose and he tolerated the therapy extremely well. After 6 months his symptoms began to subside and almost completely disappear. He has had many seasons with minimal or no symptoms, and only occasionally needs an antihistamine.
Contact us today to get tested and get more information.