A: Although you can develop an allergy to almost anything, the most common allergens are pollen, mold, pet dander and dust. Keeping track of when your allergies are at their worst, may help you determine what you are allergic to. Allergies in the spring are often due to tree pollen, while summer allergies are more likely to be from grasses or weeds. Allergies in the fall are often from ragweed, and mold allergies tend to worsen during humid or rainy weather.
For most people, symptoms are easily controlled with over-the-counter medications. The most common class of medicine used is called antihistamines. These help reduce sneezing, runny nose, itchy nose, and itchy eyes. However, some may cause drowsiness. Decongestants, such as pseudoephedrine help reduce nasal congestion and stuffiness. These medications are known to raise blood pressure, so those with hypertension or heart disease should avoid this type of medication. Some over-the-counter decongestants come in the form of a nasal spray. It is important that these nasal sprays not be used for more than three days as long-term use can actually make the congestion worse. Eye drops are also available that help reduce itchy, watery eyes.
There are also many prescription medications available for treatment of allergies. These range from antihistamines to steroid nasal sprays to allergy shots. If over-the-counter medications have been unsuccessful at treating your symptoms of allergies, see your health care provider to decide which option is best for you.
Information provided by Mercy East Family Practice, 5900 E. University Ave., Suite 200, 643-2400.