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Prepare Now for Seasonal Allergies February 19, 2008

FOR MORE INFORMATION, contact Rebecca Sylvester at 706/828-2394.

Prepare Now for Seasonal Allergies

AUGUSTA, Ga. – Feb. 19, 2008 – Find out now if you sufferer from seasonal allergies and plot your course of treatment with a physician, University Hospital Nurse Practitioner Victoria Burt. Ms. Burt, an ongoing guest on the NBC Augusta Healthy U segment, recently addressed this viewer’s question: What exactly is an allergy?

An allergy is the body’s response to something in the environment, she explained. “When something invades the body, the body responds to try to get rid of the invaders by producing an antibody that will trigger the immune cells to release chemicals called histamines. Histamines cause the symptoms of sneezing, runny nose and watery eyes.”

First make sure you are suffering from a seasonal allergy and not a cold, she said.

A cold generally lasts seven to 10 days, while Allergic Rhinitis can drag on for weeks or months.

Additional symptoms of a cold may include:

  • Low fever
  • Nasal discharge that is thick and yellow
  • Cough and sore throat

Additional Symptoms of Allergic Rhinitis are:

  • Clear nasal drainage
  • Itching – eyes and roof of the mouth
  • Wheezing (sometimes)

Other than pollen, the most common allergens are:

  • Mold
  • Dust
  • Mites (microscopic insects that feed on human skin cells)
  • Animal dander (tiny skin flakes shed by animals)
  • Tobacco smoke or other air pollutants

“The best treatment to reduce your allergic misery is to first avoid the allergen,” Ms. Burt explained.

  • Keep windows shut and the air conditioner on (when plants are in bloom)
  • Use air filters (to clean out pollens, molds and dust)
  • Use dehumidifier (in damp areas basement)
  • Replace carpet with wood, tile or vinyl floors (in place of carpet. If you do have carpet, have someone else vacuum)
  • Minimize clutter (which collect dust)
  • Keep pets outside or bathe them regularly. Avoid letting them sleep in your bed.
  • Cover mattress and pillow with a low-allergen cover

“You won’t be able to eliminate every allergen from your home, but with these steps you can make it a comfortable place even during peak season,” Ms. Burt said.

Many medications are sold over the counter. Antihistamines block the effect of the histamine, but its major side effect is drowsiness.

Choose nose sprays wisely as they can be addictive and harmful – use them under a physician’s care.

“Allergy shots, also known as immunotherapy, can offer long lasting relief for some people,” Ms. Burt said. “Getting the shots is a long process which can take a span of three to five years to complete. They are given to desensitize the body’s immune system to each allergen. Over time the allergic symptoms may decrease. The best advice is see a physician sooner than later to proceed with the best course of treatment.”


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