An allergen is anything that causes the body’s immune system to release histamine, one of the chemicals that causes the constellation of symptoms allergy sufferers recognize all too well.
Here in North Texas, there are plenty of allergy triggers that can leave you sneezing, itching and just feeling miserable. Allergies to mold and household dust mites can be bothersome year-round, so any additional environmental triggers only make things worse at various times of the year, depending on what you’re sensitive to.
Relieving and Preventing Symptoms
Over-the-counter and prescription medications that ease allergy symptoms include:
Oral antihistamines - These work by blocking the effects of histamine. They’re available in pill form or as nasal sprays, both over the counter and by prescription. While today’s antihistamines don’t cause as much drowsiness as earlier versions, some people do feel drowsy on them, which can be difficult if you take them on a regular basis.
Decongestants - These narrow the blood vessels in the nose, clearing nasal congestion.
Steroid nasal sprays - These reduce nasal inflammation and the accompanying congestion, sneezing and runny nose.
Immunotherapy allergy shots - These desensitize you to a specific allergen through repeated injections of the substance in gradually increasing amounts. Over time, this dampens the immune response to allergy triggers, stopping the allergic reaction before it starts. Allergy shots are administered in the office over weeks or months according to a specific schedule until patients reach the maintenance stage, which is one shot every two weeks.