As a child you may have enjoyed spending time outside in the spring and summer without experiencing so much as a sniffle due to allergens, or allergy triggers. Now that you are an adult, if you have started to experience allergy symptoms — itchy, watery eyes and constant sneezing — you are not alone.
Each year, allergies affect nearly 50 million people in United States alone. They can affect all age groups, and it is not uncommon to develop allergies as adults. Most adults develop allergies in their 20s and 30s.
An allergy occurs when your body perceives a substance to be harmful and overreacts to it. In Ohio pollen from trees, flowers, ragweed and grass, as well as spores from mold, are often the culprits of seasonal allergies. If you deal with allergies that are more than just an inconvenience, it is with good reason. Dayton was ranked as the most challenging city in the Midwest for allergy-sufferers, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America’s 2016 Regional Rankings.
While people can experience a wide range of allergy symptoms, the most common symptoms include sneezing, coughing, nasal congestion, itchy or runny nose, watery or itchy eyes, itchy throat, wheezing, itchy skin and hives. Some people only experience mild allergies, but for others, these symptoms can make life miserable.
“Seasonal allergies are fairly easy to identify as they occur around same time every year,” says Soumya Nadella, MD, a Kettering Physician Network family medicine physician at Sycamore Internal Medicine in Miamisburg. “Based on a person’s history and physical exam, a doctor may be able to diagnose and prescribe treatment or refer the patient to an allergist for further evaluation.”
Dr. Nadella says simple changes such as keeping your windows closed, installing an air filter, using an air conditioner to clean the air, or staying indoors when mold and pollen levels are high may help you control symptoms.
Not everyone who has allergies has asthma, but many people with asthma also have allergies. Allergies can trigger your airways to narrow. It is important to know your allergy triggers so you can avoid them.
Common asthma triggers include:
• Dust mites, animal dander, mold, and pollens from trees, grasses and flowers
• Cigarette smoke, air pollution and certain chemicals
• Respiratory infections
• Physical activity
But if avoiding allergens isn’t possible or doesn’t provide relief, Dr. Nadella says, other steps may be needed.
“Over-the-counter medication, prescription medication and allergy shots are available to those with more severe allergies. Talk with your primary care physician if you suspect you have allergies.”
Your doctor may recommend allergy testing to see what allergens affect you. Testing usually involves placing small amounts of allergens on your skin to determine if there are any reactions.