How can I tell if I have nasal allergies, or "allergic rhinitis"?
If you always seem to have a cold, with sneezing or sniffling a regular occurrence, consider allergies especially if the following symptoms are present:
- Itchy, watery eyes or nose
- Chronic nasal congestion
- Itchy palate (roof of the mouth)
- Frequent sneezing fits
- Seasonal symptoms (especially spring and fall)
- Symptoms only in certain locations (in your bedroom, out on the grass, etc.)
In Southern California, seasons tend to blend into one another, so remember that sometimes seasonal changes may not be very noticeable.
Is there anything I can do on my own without having allergy testing?
Yes! You can start with some detective work of your own: when, where, and how do your symptoms happen? Look for patterns. Try removing any items from your bedroom that may be contaminated with outdoor pollens (like hampers full of clothes worn outdoors, waiting to be laundered), or that may harbor mold or dust mite growth (like down comforters or wool blankets that cannot be washed). Consider buying a HEPA filter for your bedroom, and keeping windows shut when it is windy outside.
There are also several nonprescription antihistamines available such as Claritin, Allegra, and Zyrtec, as well as their generic forms. These are fairly safe to try, and can be helpful in controlling or preventing nasal or eye allergy symptoms.
When should I seek additional help from an allergist?
If you are not improving despite attempts at cleaning up your environment, or if you are "stuck" on medications with no end in sight, it would be helpful to get some "clues" as to what is causing your reaction, and whether it is possible to avoid it completely. Allergy testing can give you the clues you need to do a better job at controlling your symptoms. Prescription medications may also be helpful either used on an "as needed" basis, or on a preventative daily basis if necessary.
I hate taking medicines! Isn't there a more natural solution?
We hate having to rely on medicines indefinitely too. There is a more natural solution -- desensitization, or "immunotherapy" (commonly referred to as "allergy shots"). This is a vaccination program that trains your immune system to tolerate the things in your environment that are causing your allergy symptoms. This is a great way to decrease or even eliminate your need for medications over time, allowing you to avoid these drugs and their potential side effects.
But I want to keep playing sports on the grass, and my pets are like family!
We want you to be able to live your life without the burden of allergies, and will work with you to identify what is important to you. There are always options, and we will help you choose an option that fits your lifestyle and your personal goals. We have many success stories resulting from personalized treatment plans, not the least of which are awareness and prevention.