Author: Stuck, Cheryl
Date published: March 1, 2012
If you suffer from allergies, you're not alone. In our Today's Woman of Wellness survey, 76 percent responded that they suffer from allergies, and 40 percent indicated they use over-the-counter remedies to treat allergies.
Kentucky ranks as one of the hardest hit areas for allergy sufferers and last year, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA), over 498,000 Kentuckians went to the extra trouble of waiting in line at the pharmacy and showing identification to purchase medications containing pseudoephedrineto help control their congestion. The ingredient is monitored due to its use in making methamphetamines (meth), an illegal and highly addictive drug. In the future, it is possible that a prescription will be required to obtain the drugs containing the ingredient. Just a few years ago, they were available off the shelf.
In a letter to the Kentucky General Assembly, the AAFA points out that "Meth abuse is a serious health and law enforcement issue, but it simply does not make sense to punish legitimate patients with unnecessary and costly trips to the doctor's office."
From our survey responses, it seems that a combination of treatments for allergies is common. Prescription medications, allergy shots, avoiding the allergen, and a variety of natural remedies were mentioned as effective methods.
If you suffer from sinus problems due to allergies, Mark Corbett, M. D. at Allergy Care, and former chair of the board of Allergy and Immunology, said it's reasonable to try one of the over-the-counter remedies first. But if you don't get excellent control with that, or if you have to take it for a long period of time, say, a month or two at a time, then it's time to see an allergist and determine what it is you're allergic to. The allergist may have you continue on those medications or may try a nasal steroid medication or nasal antihistamine.
Dr. Corbett said that allergy shots are the only way to actually "cure" the problem of seasonal allergies. But for the patient who is trying to deal with them on their own, he advises beginning to take the antihistamine or nasal steroid spray before the season begins. He also recommends using air conditioning instead of opening windows, and if you have been outside, take a shower and wash the pollens out of your hair. He also suggests bathing your animals more frequently.
Do You Suffer From Allergies?
YES 76% / NO 24%
Typically, the drainage from your runny nose is c ear and thin.
How can you tell if you're suffering from allergies or if you have a cold?
Adriana McCubbin, M. D. at Kentuckiana Allergy said the more common allergy symptoms are sneezing or itching of eyes, nose, or skin. Typically, the drainage from your runny nose is clear and thin. With a regular cold, you can have clear drainage as well, but if you have color in your drainage, that's an indication of a sinus infection or a cold. If you suffer from body aches or general fatigue and are just not feeling well, you probably have a cold. The exception would be if you aren't sleeping well due to the congestion which could cause your fatigue.
A cough and sore throat can be caused from post-nasal drainage, but if it lingers throughout the day, you're probably sick.
Prescription nasal sprays are the first line of treatment for allergic rhinitis (nasal allergies). Then antihistamines or decongestants. But Dr. McCubbin warns that "after a while, the effectiveness wears off and that's when they end up in our office."
Both doctors stipulated that pseudoephedrine should not be taken over a long period of time due to the possibility of issues with high blood pressure or cardiac problems, especially in older patients.
Our Today's Woman of Wellness Health advisory group talks about how they control their allergies.
"I have both food and environmental allergies. The best thing I did was choose one doctor and seek a consistent treatment plan. My allergist keeps my primary care physician informed. I feel better and get sick less often.
"At first, the drug costs were a little high. But my physician and I discussed it and worked together to find treatment options that worked and were affordable."
MARY JENNINGS, Director of Marketing and Public Relations for Clark Memorial Hospital
"My allergies are seasonal. Taking a teaspoon of local honey helps. I try to remember to start doing this April 1 and October 1 before the symptoms hit."
KIM BROECKER, Public school teacher
"I am allergic to certain foods, certain metals on my skin, cat dander, pollen, and a multitude of other things. Allergy testing resulted in too many things for me to have just one serum. I needed two. After I started the regimen, we moved, and I had to start all over again. I quit the allergy shots and just try to avoid my allergens and take antihistamines and use skin creams as needed. I have to occasionally take epinephrine and steroids due to airway swelling. That is a bit scary, but luckily, my reactions all come on slowly enough to get help."
DEBORAH TUGGLE, Clinical Nurse Specialist for Central Baptist Hospital
"When my allergies strike, I'll have a headache for the whole day. That doesn't allow me to work, study, or concentrate.
"Usually the Tylenol doesn't work completely for my headache. The best remedy for me is decreasing my intake of carbohydrates and/or sugars. I'm prone to allergies when I have been eating sugars."
MARIA ANGELICA MUNOZ, Physical educator
"It is difficult to get enough sleep when I cannot breathe through my nose. Also, it is hard to be totally on top of my game when on antihistamines, because even the non-drowsy ones make me sleepy. Hepa filters and allergy shots twice a week have helped a lot."
BURKE STEPHENS, Administrator at Oaklawn
"Allergies make my life miserable at different times of the year. Usually, they occur when a big event is coming up and I need to look my best. That is hard to do when I'm all stuffed up with puffy eyes, and I feel like I'm talking in a tin can. Prescription medications help.
"For my food allergies, I usually try to stay away from those foods. For my sinus problems, sometimes (breathing the steam from) boiling hot water with a towel over my head seems to open me up a little. A good hot shower does the same thing."
DEE JAY KELLY, Public educator for Harrods Creek Fire Department