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Baylor College of Medicine News

Allergy Update: Know your treatment options

Allergies got you down? Dr. Madhu Narra, assistant professor of medicine in the section of allergy, immunology and rheumatology at Baylor College of Medicine discusses potential treatment options.

Classic allergy symptoms include runny and itchy eyes and nose, sneezing, congestion, drainage and cough. Some people whose allergies trigger asthma may have chest symptoms like wheezing and trouble breathing. Other symptoms include dark circles under the eyes due to congestion and sinus pressure.

  • For mild allergies, consider over-the-counter medications like loratadine or cetirizine that usually do not cause drowsiness
  • Try to avoid exposure to allergens
  • Keep your windows closed during peak pollen season. You can track pollen counts online.
  • Clean pets before they enter the house so that they don't carry pollen into the home
  • Do not dry clothes outside where they can pick up pollen
  • Wear a mask or nasal filters when mowing the lawn to prevent allergens from getting into the nose
  • See an allergist for a skin test to determine what you are allergic to
  • If prescription medications and nasal sprays do not help much or if long-term relief from severe allergies is desired, consider getting allergy shots, which can provide long lasting relief with four to five years of treatment

If no allergies are found through a skin test, Narra said that non-allergic causes such as smoke, strong odors, fumes and pollution may be triggering symptoms. This can be treated with medications, but not with allergy shots. It is sometimes possible to have a combination of both allergic and non-allergic triggers for your symptoms.

Three separate blooming seasons can trigger allergies. Generally, weeds such as ragweed bloom in the fall, trees bloom during spring and grasses bloom from spring through fall in Houston. Indoor allergens like dust mites can cause symptoms throughout the year. So it is important to be aware of what you are allergic to so that you know when to look out for these allergens, said Narra.