With spring right around the corner, this also means the start of nasal congestion, a runny nose, sneezing, and sore or puffy eyes. These symptoms are usually the result of allergies, otherwise known as allergic rhinitis or hay fever.
Hay fever affects millions of Canadians and occurs when the mucous membranes become irritated or inflamed by an irritant such as pollen (grass, trees, flowers), causing the aforementioned symptoms. While hay fever typically occurs during the spring, people can also experience perennial allergic rhinitis, which can occur year round. Perennial allergic rhinitis is caused by exposure to mold, dust, pet dander or other irritants.
To avoid allergies, it is important to evade certain triggers. You can do this by making a few changes to your home and your daily routine, as outlined below:
• During high-pollen seasons, keep all windows in your home and vehicle closed and opt for air conditioning instead; stay indoors whenever possible. This will help to limit your exposure to pollen and other outdoor irritants. Note: Do not use window fans as these can actually draw irritants into your home.
• Wear sunglasses. Not only will this protect your eyes from UV damage, but sunglasses will also keep pollen from entering your eyes.
• Clean floors and surfaces with a damp (not dry) mop or cloth.
• Use a dehumidifier in damp or humid areas of your home and make sure it is cleaned often. If you notice mold in areas if your home, clean it by using a mild detergent, bleach, vinegar or baking soda.
• If you have a known pet allergy, avoid contact with animals you are allergic to. If you move into a home that was previously occupied by any animals, you may need to clean or replace the carpeting with hardwood or tile flooring.
To treat allergic rhinitis, the most common medications prescribed by general practitioners in Vancouver such as Dr. Ali Ghahary, are intranasal corticosteroids. These include Nasonex, Nasocort and Flonase, just to name a few. Intranasal corticosteroids work to reduce nasal congestion, inflammation and sneezing associated with allergic rhinitis. Antihistamines such as Benadryl, Allegra and Reactine are also affective in providing more immediate relief to symptoms of allergic rhinitis such as hives, sore or itchy eyes, sneezing, and nasal congestion.
If you would like further insight into what you may or may not be allergic to, request a referral to an allergist from your family physician.