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Coping With Nasal Allergies

Nasal Allergies

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Updated June 04, 2011

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

Nasal allergies can be more debilitating than most people realize. If you're suffering from this problem the good news is that you're not alone -- and with so many people trying to cope with nasal allergies there is a variety of products on the market to help symptoms, with new products coming out frequently. Nasal allergies are caused by an over-reactive immune system. A substance, called an allergen, triggers your immune system to respond in a way that commonly causes some of the following symptoms:

Nasal allergies are often triggered by allergens such as dust, dander, mold and pollen. A good place to start in your treatment is by visiting a doctor called an allergist. An allergist can identify the allergen that is causing your symptoms. An allergist may also use some of the following treatments to help you cope with your nasal allergies.

Trigger Avoidance

Avoiding the substance that is causing your nasal allergies is the first and most simple part of your treatment. Because pollen, dander and dust are just tiny particles they can be places you wouldn't guess, especially if you don't know what you're looking for. Here are some tips on trigger avoidance.

  • Get up-to-date pollen counts from the news or the National Allergy Bureau and stay indoors when counts are high.
  • Keep your windows closed when pollen counts are high.
  • If you do have to go outside, take a shower when you come in. You may have pollen on you and bring it into your home.
  • If you are allergic to dust keep a clean home.
  • Change your bedding at least once a week.
  • Keep curtains and blinds dust free.

For more information on trigger avoidance, indoor allergy and mold kits, and the difficult task of removing mold from your home read How to Detect an Allergen and Remove it From Your Home.

Immunotherapy

Nasal allergies can be treated with immunotherapy or allergy shots. Once your doctor has identified the allergen that is causing your nasal allergies, you can then be given small doses (shots) of that allergen in gradually increasing amounts over a period of a few months. This conditions your immune system to be more tolerant of the allergen thus reducing your symptoms. While immunotherapy is not a cure for everyone, it has cured some people of nasal allergies and has helped many more to cope with their symptoms.

Antihistamines

Histamine is a substance released by your immune system and is responsible for many of the symptoms associated with nasal allergies. Antihistamines are a group of medications that combat histamine and control the symptoms of allergies. Many antihistamines are available over-the-counter. Some antihistamines can make you very drowsy, but some of the newer antihistamines, Allegra in particular, claim not to have this side effect. Here are some examples of antihistamines.

Talk to your doctor before starting any new medication for the treatment of nasal allergies.

Nasal Decongestants

Nasal decongestants treat runny nose (rhinitis) and stuffy nose (congestion). They usually come in a small bottle designed to be sprayed directly into the nostrils but also come orally like pseudoephedrine. Many nasal decongestants can cause a condition called rebound congestion if used for more than 3 to 4 days, so check with your doctor before choosing a nasal decongestant. The following are more examples of nasal decongestants.

Neti Pots

A neti pot is designed for nasal irrigation (flushing out the nasal passages with a saline solution). There seems to be some disagreement among researchers as to whether or not neti pots are beneficial for nasal allergies, with some studies showing positive effects and others not. The bottom line is that more studies need to be done and you need to talk with your doctor before using one. Some people claim that neti pots work wonders for their symptoms. If you would like to learn more about neti pots read How to Use a Neti Pot and Tips For Using a Neti Pot

The treatment of nasal allergies is necessary not only for your comfort but to prevent more serious conditions from developing such as chronic sinusitis, nasal polyps or sleep apnea

Sources:

American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. Allergic Conditions: Immunotherapy. Accessed: March 10, 2011 from http://www.aaaai.org/patients/allergic_conditions/immunotherapy.stm

Medline Plus. Allergic Rhinitis. Accessed: March 11, 2011 from http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000813.htm

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