A few treatment approaches may help reduce or relieve a person's allergy symptoms. The first is to avoid pollen and other allergens as much as possible. If symptoms continue, medications may be helpful. Immunotherapy is currently the only treatment available that offers the hope of long-term relief of allergies. However, this form of treatment must usually continue for a few years and does not work for everyone.
Pollen grains from trees, grasses, and weeds can float through the air in spring, summer, or fall. However, along with staying on a mission to fertilize plants and tree flowers, pollen particles often end up in our noses, eyes, ears, and mouths. This can lead to:
- Watery eyes
- Itchy throat.
Pollen allergy, commonly known as hay fever, affects about one out of ten Americans. For some, relief from allergies is found with occasional use of over-the-counter (OTC) medicines. Others have reactions that can more seriously disrupt the quality of their lives. Allergies can trigger or worsen asthma and lead to other health problems, such as sinusitis and ear infections in children.
Many people with allergic rhinitis (hay fever) notice a pattern to their symptoms with the changing seasons, but others may need a doctor's help to find out for sure that pollen is the source of their misery. If these symptoms crop up year-round, dust mites, pet dander, or another indoor allergen could be the culprit. This is known as perennial allergic rhinitis.
It's important to see a doctor if you're experiencing allergies for the first time, if your allergy symptoms interfere with your ability to function, if you don't find allergy relief from over-the-counter (OTC) drugs, or if you experience symptoms on an ongoing basis. You may need an allergy test, the most common of which is a skin test that shows how you react to different allergens, including specific types of pollen, like ragweed or grass pollen.