Temperate weather, sunny skies and budding trees are often considered a welcome change from the cold, dreary days of winter. But if you’re one of the 36 million Americans dealing with seasonal allergies, spring weather presents a whole new set of problems. Sniffling, sneezing, watery eyes, and congestion are just a few issues that allergy sufferers expect to deal with all season long. And if you don’t get a head start on addressing your symptoms, you could be in for a long battle.
Seasonal allergies are caused by an overreaction in the immune system. When you inhale allergy triggers, such as pollen or mold spores, your immune system mistakenly identifies these particles as harmful substances and releases antibodies to neutralize the threat. These antibodies attach themselves to mast cells which release histamine, a chemical neurotransmitter that triggers allergy symptoms.
Controlling seasonal allergies often requires a multifaceted approach, and pre-treatment is a crucial step in this process. Pre-treating seasonal allergies turns on your body’s defenses so it is already prepared to handle allergens. Pre-treatment also helps prevent symptoms from compounding and becoming more difficult to treat.
There are some rules to follow when pre-treating seasonal allergies:
- Mometasone furoate (Nasonex) or fluticasone propionate (Flonase) are nasal steroid sprays that can be used in advance. These medications treat more allergy symptoms than other drug classes, but they take a month to reach full effectiveness. Begin using nasal steroid spray once daily beginning one month prior to allergy season.
- Oral antihistamines or antihistamine sprays or drops may also be used in advance, though they are not as effective as steroid sprays. Some antihistamines can cause drowsiness, making them a poor option for older adults at risk of falls.
- Decongestant sprays are only meant to be used for a few days and are not appropriate for pre-treatment. Decongestant pills may be used to prevent nasal congestion, but they are not safe for individuals with hypertension or heart problems.
There are several treatment options that can help keep your allergy symptoms under control. Schedule an appointment with your doctor to discuss different therapies and develop a complete treatment plan that’s right for you. Taking preventive steps now will keep you breathing easy all season long (Source: Harvard Health).