In early spring, the pollen is palpable. Just as it coats our vehicles with a dusting of yellowish powder, it infiltrates our nasal passages. This triggers our bodies’ defenses, so our eyes gets itchy, our faces swell, and our noses run.
For some, allergies are a minor inconvenience that can be handled with over-the-counter medications. For others, seasonal allergies can keep them walled up in their homes.
Allergies can be especially irritating to children. And, for those who have moved from other climates, you may experience allergic reactions that you’ve never dealt with before.
What causes allergic reactions?
Allergies (also called allergic rhinitis) can be caused by:
- Pollen from trees, grass, or weeds
- Dust mites
- Cockroach waste
- Animal dander
- Tobacco smoke
What are the symptoms of allergic rhinitis?
Each person may experience symptoms differently, but common symptoms include:
The symptoms of allergic rhinitis may look like other conditions or medical problems. Always talk with your healthcare provider for a diagnosis.
Do I need an allergist?
Typically, an allergy diagnosis is made by your healthcare provider based on a thorough medical history and physical exam. During the exam, your family doctor may also find dark circles under the eyes, creases under the eyes, and swollen tissue inside the nose. If this is the case, then you may be referred to an allergist. An allergist is trained to perform tests that can tell you exactly what is causing your symptoms.
How is allergic rhinitis treated?
Your healthcare provider will figure out the best treatment for you based on:
- Overall health and past health
- How sick you are
- How well you can handle specific medicines, procedures, or therapies
- How long the condition is expected to last
- Your opinion or preference
The symptoms of allergic rhinitis sometimes look like other conditions or medical problems. Always see your family doctor for a diagnosis.
Treatment choices for rhinitis may include:
- Nose sprays such as nasal steroids and/or antihistamines
- Medicines for asthma symptoms
- Allergy shots
When should I call a doctor?
If your symptoms get worse or if you develop new symptoms, call your doctor to schedule an appointment.
Dr. Brian M. Legere is a pulmonologist with NHRMC Physician Group -- Coastal Pulmonary Medicine. If you are experiencing allergies, see your family doctor. If you need to see a specialist, ask your doctor for a referral to Coastal Pulmonary Medicine, 910.343.3345.