How to prevent allergies and allergy symptoms

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by Catherine Holland

azfamily.com

Posted on March 15, 2011 at 9:10 AM

PHOENIX – Allergy season is here, and it’s going to last through the end of May.

“Depending on what you’re allergic to, you’re going to experience it,” said. Dr. Art Mollen. “Basically, allergies are an overreaction of your immune system, so it’s not something where your immune system is underreacting. It’s overreacting to all the pollen.”

There are, however, some things you can do to prevent the misery to which allergy sufferers are prone.

“Prevention is key,” Mollen said.

One big thing you can do is allergy-proof your environment.

While these gorgeous days just beg for open windows and doors, keeping your windows and doors closed will keep the dust and pollen outside where they belong. This applies to cars, too. If you have a convertible, you might want to consider putting up the top.

Mollen ran down a list of over-the-counter medications that can help alleviate the symptoms of allergies. Some of those include Clarinex, Zyretec and Allegra. These drugs used to be available only with a prescription, but the FDA has approved them for OTC sales.

There are also prescription options like Singulair, which was originally for asthma patients.

According to Mollen, many people reach for nasal sprays like Afrin. While such sprays will open nasal passages and allow you to breathe better, using them for more than three days could cause you to develop a condition called rhinitis medicamentosa, in which rebound congestion causes your sinus membranes to swell, making it difficult to breathe.

“The gold standard that most physicians and most allergists are now using is something like Nasonex,” Mollen said. “A lot of people like Flonase.

“There are several medications [like these] which are cortisone based … and that usually helps to reduce the inflammatory process,” Mollen explained.

Some people swear by the Neti pot to flush out their sinuses, and Mollen said it can definitely help.

“For a lot of people who have allergies, I think that will work for them,” he said.

Mollen also pointed out that some people have a genetic propensity to develop allergies.

“If you have one parent who has allergies, you have a 30 percent chance,” he said. “If you have two parents who have allergies, you have a 60 percent chance.”

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