Testing the key to battling allergies

by Dr. Alex Freeman

Sneezing, stuffy nose and runny nose are three common complaints physicians see in their patients. If you suffer from these symptoms, you may have allergies.

Most people suffer these symptoms at certain times of the year and have what is known as seasonal allergies.

Others suffer from them year-round. Other symptoms might include itchy, watery eyes and an itchy, sore throat.

Seasonal allergy sufferers are generally allergic to the pollens from trees, grasses and weeds. They may also be allergic to mold spores, which grow in wet, humid weather.

People who suffer from year-round allergies may be allergic to the same allergens, but they may also be allergic to animals or dust mites.

Everyone breathes in these substances, and most do so without any issue. However, those that have issues can feel like they are sick all the time. It may even affect their sleep.

When someone presents with allergy symptoms, treatment generally involves antihistamines (Benadryl, Claritin), steroid nasal sprays and nose rinses. The best way to get rid of allergy symptoms, however, is to avoid the allergen altogether.

Most people that have allergies do not actually know what they are allergic to, so they do not know what to avoid.
That’s where allergy testing comes in to play. You may decide to talk to your doctor to see if allergy testing is appropriate for you.

Once you and your doctor figure out what you are allergic to, you can talk specifically about how to treat your allergies. If you are allergic to the pollens of many trees and grasses, then avoidance may not be practical.

The treatment for these kinds of allergies is immunotherapy, commonly referred to as allergy shots. 

Spring is around the corner, so talk with your doctor about the best way to handle your allergies this season.

Dr. Alex Freeman is on staff at Freeman Medical Clinic in Conway.