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Why some of us hate spring

Apr 08, 2015 02:00PM ● By Cate Reynolds
Sweet smelling showers that bring all those gorgeous spring flowers. What's not to like? Lots—for those of us with allergies.

Your allergies were probably a “gift” from your parents. (Couldn't they have given us smaller feet or naturally curly hair or improved math abilities?) This often inherited tendency hasn't always bothered you quite so much. But you're recently moved to Maryland and now you are living in sneeze city. Different allergens are very much a function of geography. Furthermore, what treatment worked when you lived in San Diego, may not work on those itchy eyes in area code 410. Luckily, Harvard Medical School breaks down the three major ways to manage allergies.

Antihistamines—the mainstay medications for treating sneezing, runny nose, and itchy eyes. Antihistamines also relieve hives and other symptoms of some food allergies.

The good news is that the newest generation of antihistamines including Zyrtec, Clarinex, Allegra, are far less likely to cause drowsiness at recommended doses. Their effects are also longer lasting, so you usually only need to take them once a day.

Decongestants—help to relieve the stuffy, blocked-nose symptoms of nasal congestion. Short-term use of decongestants usually provides good symptom relief and can make you feel better quickly. However these medication can worsen prostate problems and glaucoma and should not be taken without a doctor's advice if you have a heart condition.

Allergy Shots—can help reduce sensitivity to the triggers that set off your allergies. This therapy involves injecting small and increasing amounts of allergens (substances that cause allergic reactions) over regular intervals. Typically, this means weekly injections with increasing doses to six months and then monthly

The biggest drawback to this treatment is the risk of a potentially serious allergic reaction from the shot itself. Improvements in allergy extracts and dosing schedules have reduced this risk to what researchers estimate is about one percent of all allergy shots.

--Sarah Hagerty
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