Feel better. Sleep better. Look better. See an allergist.
Do frequent coughing spells exhaust you? Is your family annoyed at your constant throat clearing? Does your significant other wish you did not snore? And what is that snorting sound you make with your nose?
These symptoms can all be the noisy consequences of poorly controlled allergies, medically called Allergic Rhinitis.
Allergic rhinitis occurs when your immune system overreacts to a substance that may be harmless to others. These substances, known as allergens, can be pollen, organisms found in dust, mold, or animal dander.
Release the histamines!
If you come into contact with allergens and you are allergic, your immune system considers it dangerous and releases a chemical called histamine. Your body’s intention is to keep you safe, but the over-reaction causes allergy symptoms. When your body comes across an allergy trigger, your immune system launches a chain reaction to defend you.
First, it sends a chemical signal to cells in your lungs, nose, mouth, gut, and blood. The message is, “Release histamines,” which are stored in certain cells.
As histamine leaves these cells, it boosts blood flow in the area of your body the allergen affected. This causes inflammation.
The irritation of it all
If your nose is affected, histamines infect the membranes causing more mucus to be produced. You can get a runny or stuffy nose. And you’ll sneeze. You may get itchy eyes. The mucus drains down your nasal passages to your throat, making you cough. You snort, a lot. The inflammation caused by the histamine further narrows your nasal passages. As the nasal congestion persists, sinus disease, sore throat, and post nasal drip develop causing chronic coughing. Eventually you live with sleep apnea, snoring, and chronic fatigue.
What to do?
The first impulse for many allergy sufferers is to go to the pharmacy and try to figure out the antihistamine-decongestant combination that will work for you. With so many options, this can be futile and expensive. You can also deal with side effects of these medications that make you feel worse, such as nervousness, dry mouth, drowsiness, high blood pressure, high blood pressure, or constipation.
The more effective first step is to make an appointment with a board-certified allergist. The most important step in treating your allergy symptoms is to identify your allergy triggers by skin testing (without needles). Once the cause is identified, a treatment plan including lifestyle changes will be discussed. A treatment plan may be a simple as identifying the right medication or tips on avoiding the allergen. This can all be accomplished in one appointment with the allergist.
Improved quality of life
Individuals who have suffered long term with allergic rhinitis often don’t realize how much better they can feel. Most patients who have their allergies properly diagnosed find an improved quality of life as a result.