Tips for Fighting Hay Fever

For allergy sufferers, spring and summer brings itching, sniffling and sneezing. Michael Benninger, M.D., talks about how to get to the root of the problem and learn ways to put an end to seasonal allergy misery.

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CLEVELAND – For those whose spring and summer months include itching, sniffling and sneezing, there is an effective way to put an end to the misery.

According to Cleveland Clinic’s Michael Benninger, M.D., the first step to fighting hay fever is identifying what is causing the symptoms.

“If your symptoms are really dramatic where you get really bad itchy eyes, nasal problems and particularly if you have asthma, it’s really important to identify specifically what you’re allergic to, because one of the big things you can do is ‘trigger avoidance’,” said Dr. Benninger.

Avoiding substances that trigger allergies can reduce symptoms but without knowing the root cause, it can be difficult.

Dr. Benninger said if symptoms are a bother, it’s worthwhile to get an allergy test – either a skin test or a blood test.

He recommended starting an allergy nasal spray that contains corticosteroids three to four weeks before a certain allergy season hits, so the medicine is working well once the pollen starts to fly.

For example, if summer grass allergy brings misery, spring is a good time to start allergy medicines.

An allergy nasal spray combined with a non-sedating antihistamine often brings relief, said Dr. Benninger.

For those planning to spend a lot of time outdoors, Dr. Benninger encouraged taking medicines ahead of time to lessen the severity of a potential allergy attack.

“If you’re outside for extended periods of time you’ll want to pre-treat that, for example, with an antihistamine or something called cromolyn sodium, which is a spray that you can put in your nose that you can use beforehand,” said Dr. Benninger.

Dr. Benninger said people with severe allergies may also want to consider allergy shots or immunotherapy tablets, which help the body build a tolerance to an allergen over time.

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