woman with allergiesBy Woman's Day Staff
An allergic reaction occurs when your immune system thinks a substance is harmful and releases histamines to "fight" it. The histamines bring on symptoms: itchy, watery eyes, congestion and even trouble breathing. Allergies (both food and respiratory) typically tend to crop up when you're 5 to 10 years old, then between the ages of 25 and 40, and 45 to 55 (so, basically, most of your life!). Fortunately there are ways to stop the sneezing. Photo by Getty
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The allergist says...
Try over-the-counter remedies
If you suspect you have a food allergy, see an allergist-the only way to prevent a reaction is to pinpoint the culprit and avoid it. To help stop symptoms caused by dust, pollen and mold, flush out your nasal passages with a saline nasal spray or neti pot two to four times a day. Over-the-counter antihistamines such as Claritin, Allegra or Zyrtec and decongestants like Mucinex D and Sudafed can ease your symptoms once they start.
The one medication to avoid: an OTC nasal decongestant spray. It can be addicting and create "rebound" congestion worse than what you felt originally.
Neil L. Kao, MD, allergist, the Allergic Disease and Asthma Center, Greenville, SC
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The environmental expert says...
Invest in a HEPA filter
Pollution and overall warmer weather have caused the rise of pollen, mold and mildew levels, and the number of adults with allergies is increasing as well. Investing in a HEPA filter for your home will decrease your exposure to these allergens. Also, wash your sheets in hot water at least once a week and consider covering your pillows and mattresses with zip-up plastic cases.
Doris J. Rapp, MD, founder of the Health Research Foundation
The ear, nose and throat (ENT) doctor says...
Rule out other medical conditions
In some cases, what seem to be allergy symptoms are due to an unrelated medical issue, like a deviated septum, hormonal changes or even sensitivity to spicy foods.
An allergist or ENT can help you figure out what's going on and may prescribe a steroid to decrease inflammation so you'll breathe easier. Know that it can take as long as four to six weeks to get full relief. So be sure to stick with the treatment your doctor recommends to figure out what really works.
Dale Amanda Tylor, MD, assistant professor of otolaryngology, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN
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Original article appeared on WomansDay.com .
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