The best medicine for allergies is avoidance. And an allergist can help you learn how to avoid your triggers (like those beautiful flowering trees) so you can be free of symptoms without medication.
People should make an effort to reduce their exposure and be proactive by making efforts at home, says Neeta Ogden, an allergist in New Jersey and a spokesperson for the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. From uncovering hidden sensitivities to finding the right natural remedies for you, an allergist can help you live a healthier, more comfortable life. Here are some reasons to make an appointment.
1. You have a cold that just won’t go away.
A cough from a cold or virus should clear up in a couple of weeks. If a cough persists or shows up consistently in a pattern, like every night in bed or each spring, it’s likely caused by an allergy, says Ogden.
“And the same goes for headaches,” says Ogden. “Headaches can be a sign of sinus involvement from allergies.” Even dull headaches and repeated fatigue can be a symptom. An allergist can help you determine if allergies are involved and help you get relief.
2. You get diarrhea after your favorite meal.
An allergist can test you for food allergies and help you separate what is a true food allergy and what is an intolerance. With a food allergy, your body mounts an immune response to something that you ate—usually immediately or within 2 hours. Rash, hives, swelling, and trouble breathing are all signs of a food allergy.
Food intolerance are harder to pick out. Symptoms usually start 3 hours after eating and can range from mild nausea to bloating to diarrhea. Knowing what foods, if any, you are allergic to can help you avoid trigger foods and their relatives that might also be giving you trouble. You can also boost the immune system by eating certain types of foods.
3. Aspirin doesn’t seem to work on you.
Over-the-counter medications can make a huge difference for people with allergies, but how do you know which products to choose and if they are working? “There are so many options available,” says Ogden. “I find people don’t know how to use them properly, so they end up getting worse.” An allergist can help you decide which OTC medications would work best for you and your symptoms, and teach you how to use them properly so you get their full benefit.
4. You’re pregnant.
You don’t have to suffer through a brutal allergy season just because you’re pregnant. On top of common nasal swelling during pregnancy, known as pregnancy rhinitis, allergies can make congestion even worse. An allergist can help you determine if you have pregnancy rhinitis or allergies. They can also help you reduce the swelling and determine what medications are safe for you to take.
5. You have itchy eyes in the morning.
If you wake up stuffy with itchy eyes or frequently cough in the middle of the night, there’s a chance you’re allergic to the dust mites that live in your bed. An allergist can help you determine if that’s the case and teach you how to sleep comfortably again.
6. Antibiotics make you feel worse.
Penicillin is one of the most common drugs people are allergic to, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. While up to 10% of the world’s population may have a drug allergy, many people are unsure of which medications they are allergic to, according to Ogden. An allergist can do a quick skin test in the office to determine if you are allergic to penicillin or other antibiotics.
7. You suspect something at home is making you sick.
Indoor allergens are lurking all over your home. From the dust under your sofa to animal dander in the carpet, it’s impossible to get rid of indoor allergens completely. An allergist can help you determine what you’re reacting to. Dust mite droppings, animal dander, cockroach droppings, and mold are some of the most common causes of indoor allergies.
From cleaning tips to special products like allergenic mattress covers, an allergist can help you reduce your exposure and alleviate your symptoms. “There are tons of little tips that people may not be aware of to reduce exposure,” says Ogden.
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