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Allergies are very common, both for adults and children in the US. In fact, allergies affect over 50 million people yearly. While some allergens can be easily avoided, the most common allergies, such as hay fever, a dust allergy, or an allergy to pet dander can be much more challenging to resolve. 

What can I do about my allergies?

Allergies occur when your body’s immune system reacts to a normally harmless substance as though it were harmful. The underlying cause of allergies is not fully understood. Some people simply grow out of allergies when they reach adolescence. Others may develop new allergies seemingly out of nowhere. Regardless of the circumstances, dealing with allergies is frustrating. While most allergic reactions are mild, severe allergies can cause anaphylactic shock and can be life-threatening. Once your allergies have been diagnosed, there are certain steps you can take to live a happier, healthier life.

Avoid or limit exposure

Obviously, limiting exposure to a known allergen should be minimized or avoided completely if possible. If you have food allergies, checking a food’s ingredient list for allergens before eating it is necessary. Other allergies are more difficult to manage. If you have hay fever, or “allergic rhinitis,” avoiding grass and tree pollen is almost impossible, especially during peak allergy season. If your allergies are triggered by dust mites or pet dander, keeping your home dust and dander free can be a challenge. 

Clean the air in your home with HEPA filters

Air filters are effective in improving home air quality. These filters remove many allergens such as dust, pollen, and pet dander. A high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter traps particles as air flows through it, minimizing allergen exposure within your home. 

Reduce symptoms with medications

When avoiding a known allergen is not possible, you may need to treat symptoms with over-the-counter or prescription medication such as nasal sprays, antihistamines, or decongestants. Your primary care doctor or ENT will be able to guide you and recommend the best options for you. 

Long-term relief with allergy shots

Allergy shots, also known as allergen immunotherapy, can deliver a more lasting solution. Given at set intervals, allergy shots include tiny amounts of known allergens such as pollen, dust, or mold. This controlled exposure slowly desensitizes you to allergens. Some people find lasting relief after completing treatment, while others may have the symptoms return over time. 

Should I contact a doctor?

If you are experiencing allergic reactions to an unknown substance, an allergist or ENT can help identify specific allergens. Using tests such as skin prick tests or blood tests, they will help diagnose your allergies with precision. If you are experiencing severe symptoms or if you feel like your allergies are affecting your daily life, it is advised that you schedule an appointment with an ENT. Contact South Florida ENT Associates for more information about allergy diagnosis and treatment. 

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