It’s Allergy Season In Atlanta
The fine layer of pollen dusting our car signals the start of spring and, for many of us, the start of allergy season. There are predictions for a particularly bad season this year because of the warm, wet winter we had, as well as an earlier peak to the season.
Seasonal allergies can cause significant discomfort and disruption. Some suffer so badly, they miss work or avoid activities they otherwise enjoy. Despite the prevalence of allergies and the well-established medical interventions shown to treat or prevent them, patients are often misinformed or misunderstand their options. While many just suffer through the season, there are several effective treatments that can be explored.
What causes me to feel so miserable?
The primary chemical involved in the allergic response is Histamine. Histamine causes blood vessels to dilate and to become leaky. These leaky vessels cause many of the classic symptoms of allergies: congestion, runny nose and red, watery eyes. Histamine also stimulates the nervous system which is the primary cause of itching, sneezing and even pain.
What can I do about it?
The most commonly used allergy medications are intranasal steroids and antihistamines. Intranasal steroids, like Nasonex® and Flonase®, are an effective way to treat and prevent allergic symptoms. They should be used every day and preferably started at the beginning of the allergy season, even before you have symptoms. These are both available over the counter and via prescription. Antihistamines, such as Allegra® and Claritin® are often a helpful adjunct to the nasal sprays. The newer antihistamines such as Allegra® and Clarinex® are often less sedating then the first generation antihistamines such as Benadryl® / diphenhydramine. Other options include eye drops such as Patanol®, antihistamine nasal sprays such as Astelin®, preventative medications such as Cromolyn, and/or immuno-modulators like Singulair®.
What can I do if my allergies don’t respond to the usual treatments?
If allergies are severe enough and not relieved by the conventional means described above, systemic steroid (pills or shots) or a de-sensitization program can be considered. While de-sensitization is performed by an allergist, steroids something that can be given in an urgent care setting. A long acting steroid like Kenalog® is typically used and can be effective for preventing allergic symptoms for up to 3 months. Steroid shots should only be considered when conventional therapy fails. They should not be used more than once a year. Risk and benefit of all medications, including potential side effects should be discussed with your doctor.
So, if you’re tired of all the sneezing, dripping, itching and congestion, then come in to Piedmont Urgent Care for an allergy assessment and treatment options. We are your source for prompt and attentive allergy care in the Atlanta metro area. We have board certified physicians available in very convenient locations, find the one nearest you.