What is more exciting than springtime in bloom? The new, gorgeous weather brings picnics, concerts, and sports games. Fun in the sun, however, can introduce abrupt exposure to plants in bloom and changes in allergens floating around the air. Suddenly, you find yourself sneezing with watery eyes and itchy hives. You know you aren’t getting a cold, so what gives?
Allergies are tricky – many doctors have claimed that the most difficult thing to diagnose in the medical field is an unknown allergy. Often times, the diagnosis takes so much trial and error that the doctor is left wondering if the irritation is from the experimental treatment and testing rather than the original allergen. Back to square one. Another issue is that there are usually so many contributing factors from an environment that the possibilities can seem endless – you are left with a list probabilities rather than a direct cause of your hives and runny nose.
If you suspect that you suffer from seasonal allergies, a sure way to start the diagnostic process is to observe triggers that seem to upset your system within different environments. If you sneeze every time you enter the garage, perhaps dust or mold could be a contributing factor. If you get welts during every morning run down a certain tree-lined street, maybe you have a mild allergy to pine. This is one of the best ways to begin the process of narrowing it down.
Unfortunately, the observatory results can still be inconclusive. For instance, sometimes you sneeze around cats and sometimes you are free of any symptoms. If you cannot pinpoint what the exact irritant is, you can ask for a skin test from your family doctor, or see an allergy specialist. A skin test involves placing a tiny amount of an allergen under the skin and observing the reaction. Although slightly uncomfortable, the test is easy and usually provides symptomatic results that can lead to diagnosis and hopefully treatment.
Mild to moderate allergies are both common and treatable. It can be as simple as avoiding an environment or substance that seems to irritate you. If that is not possible, consult with your pharmacist to discuss the options for over-the-counter medicines available, most with minimal side effects. Untreated allergies can leave you feeling as though you are in a “fog,” disrupting your mood, your ability to focus, and your sleeping patterns, so getting a jump on treatment can begin to eliminate the symptoms as your body builds immunity to the allergen.
The first step to getting your allergies under control is to pinpoint where they are coming from. Once the diagnosis is made, choosing a treatment is usually relatively easy and is the next step of getting out of an “allergy fog.” The key is to stay one step ahead of it – keep your chosen antihistamine, as well as eye drops, and extra tissues close by if you are traveling into a new environment. Keep observing during any introduction to new environmental factors and you will soon be an expert in your own allergy profile.