Allergy Care Options You Can Practice Yourself

June 28, 2021

Seasonal allergies negatively affect more than 50 million Americans each year. Sneezing, sniffling, coughing, runny noses, and watery eyes are the body’s way of reacting to the mold spores and pollen that get carried through the air each season in Southern California.

Rain often offers sufferers a break from allergens, but the drought makes allergy season last longer and the effects are stronger than normal.

There are a number of over-the-counter options for the symptoms of seasonal allergies, but there are steps you can take to reduce your exposure and find some relief.

Allergies Dog Wash

Limit exposure to pollen

Limiting pollen exposure may seem hard to do since it’s everywhere and it’s not always visible. The great news is that pollen is outside. So, if you can keep the pollen out of your home, you can reduce its effects on you.

  • Keep windows closed — Most pollination occurs between 4 and 6 a.m. With that in mind, it’s also better to stay indoors if you can until about 10 a.m. to let the pollen settle.
  • Shower each night — You’ll naturally pick up pollen on your clothing throughout the day, no matter how hard you try to avoid it. By showering as soon as you get home, you can limit its spread throughout your house.
  • Change your hair product — Some hair products can act like a magnet for pollen. If it’s sticky, it can attract allergens to you, making you miserable. Try switching it up.
  • Change air filters — You should change your air conditioning filters at least once a month. You might want to do it more frequently during allergy season.
  • Bathe your pets — Pets pick up pollen just like you do. Allergy season may require more frequent bathing for your fur babies.

Allergies Kitchen

Fortify yourself

Diet can play a role in your body’s ability to fight off some of the effects of seasonal allergies. Foods that are rich in antioxidants — fruits, vegetables, and some nuts — can help your body fight against inflammation in your nasal passages. But be cautious when trying new foods or supplements, in case you happen to have a food allergy.

Other nutritional options include:

  • Probiotics — Researchers are just scratching the surface on how gut health affects overall health. Some studies with regard to allergies have been promising but there is nothing conclusive.
  • Honey — The belief is that locally sourced honey is full of local pollen which, when eaten over time, will eventually reduce your sensitivity to the pollen in your area.
  • Oily fish — The omega-3 fatty acids found in fish can help decrease the narrowing of airways caused by some seasonal allergies, as well as asthma.

Allergies Neti Pot

Other measures

Using a simple saline spray can help keep your nasal passages clear and can help stop sneezing. Some people like using a neti pot to rinse their nasal passages with warm salt water. The important thing is to use bottled distilled water and to make sure to keep the pot clean to avoid the risk of infection or illness.

Helping you through allergy season

If you are suffering from seasonal allergies, our doctors and pharmacists can make recommendations about effective over-the-counter treatments. Depending on the severity of your allergies, we can also prescribe medications or recommend you to a specialist.

AltaMed is here to help you get control of your seasonal allergies. Use our tool to find the care you need to grow healthy year-round.

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Allergies: Symptoms, Treatment & Prevention Tips

May 01, 2019

More than 50 million Americans suffer with allergies each year. There is a good chance that you or someone you care about is constantly coughing, sneezing, or taking something for red, itchy eyes. But have you ever considered what allergies actually are, what causes them, and how to deal with them?

As part of our commitment to making sure you have the information you need to make important health decisions for your family, we put together this helpful allergy overview so you can identify and seek treatment for them.

What Are Allergies?

Woman sneezing with a tissue

Some substances we live with every day like pollen, dust, or peanuts may not bother most people, but your immune system might mistake them for something harmful and go into overdrive, producing antibodies to fight that allergen. Common allergens include mold spores, pet dander, insect stings, foods, certain types of medicine, and more.

What Are Allergy Symptoms?

Mom cleaning the nose of her child at a flower camp

Common allergic reaction symptoms include difficulty breathing, changes in blood pressure, stuffy nose, or digestive issues.

Common food allergy symptoms include:

  • Tingling in the mouth
  • Swelling of the lips, face or tongue
  • Hives

Common drug allergy symptoms include:

  • Itchy skin
  • Rashes or hives
  • Wheezing
  • Swelling of the face

Insect bite/sting symptoms include:

  • Swelling at the site
  • Itching or hives
  • Cough, wheezing, shortness of breath

The most serious allergic reaction is called anaphylaxis. This is a life-threatening reaction that can—in the most extreme allergic cases—result from insect stings, severe food allergies, or drug allergies. Anaphylaxis symptoms include loss of consciousness, sudden drop in blood pressure, extreme shortness of breath, lightheadedness, rapid or weak pulse, nausea, and vomiting.

Treating Allergies

Pharmacist and a client looking at a celphone

While there is no cure for allergies, most people can treat and manage their allergy symptoms using over-the-counter or prescription medications including lotions to ease dry, itchy skin. You may also try to avoid any triggers that can cause an allergic reaction, though this may not be effective if you don’t know which allergens are impacting you. If medications don’t work for you or avoidance isn’t possible, talk to your doctor to find out about allergy shots and testing.

Tips for Preventing Allergic Reactions

Flowers and a branch mocking human lungs

In addition to medications and avoidance, there are other measures you can take to help manage your allergies.

  • For children, don’t allow stuffed animals in the bed—they trap dust and other allergens.
  • Try to avoid carpet and rugs at home—they hold onto allergens; if you have carpet, vacuum as often as possible.
  • Clean your air conditioning filters regularly—your filter traps many of the allergy-causing fibers, pollens, dust, and more that can lead to allergic reactions.
  • Keep an allergy diary—record what causes or increases your symptoms; track the foods you eat and activities you do to look for triggers; also record what seems to help and share that information with your doctor.
  • Consider wearing a medical alert device—a bracelet or necklace that lets others known about your allergies may prove to be a lifesaver.
  • Avoid foods that increase inflammation—for some people, allergies can stimulate more inflammation in the body, leading to a cascade of effects, making conditions such as psoriasis, arthritis, and acne worse. Cut back on food and drink that causes inflammation, such as sugary soft drinks, chips, processed foods, and candy.

Keep Living Your Normal Life

Friends laughing

Don’t let allergies ruin your activities at home, work, or school—do what you can to avoid your triggers, keep your medicines with you at all times, and talk to your doctor regularly about what works and what doesn’t work to treat your symptoms.

If you don’t already have a doctor, use our tool to help you find one today.

The Simple Steps to Managing Your Winter Allergies

January 04, 2019

Winter doesn’t just mean cloudy days, warm sweaters, and New Year’s resolutions, it also means another wave of allergies. Just like in the summer, many people experience symptoms like runny noses or itchy eyes during the coldest months, for a variety of reasons. Luckily, AltaMed has your back. Here’s everything you need to know about managing your allergies in the winter.

Cold Vs. Allergies
cold meds

It’s a feeling that’s all too familiar. You wake up one dark, winter morning with a runny nose and body aches. Getting a cold during the winter is very common, and many people with allergies may misdiagnose themselves as a result. Correctly identifying your symptoms is the first step to feeling better. Here are the key differences between winter allergies and the common cold:

Winter Allergies

  • Itchy eyes and/or sore throat
  • Snot is often clear in color
  • Symptoms last several weeks or indefinitely

Common Cold

  • Aches and chill
  • Snot is often cloudy and discolored
  • Symptoms last about a week

If your symptoms those of winter allergies, the next step is finding the cause.

Causes
dog

People have allergic reactions to lots of different things. During the winter, cooler weather creates the ideal conditions to spread and exasperate the following common irritants:

Pet Dander

Your furry friend may be a perfect to snuggle when the temperature drops, but keeping
pets such as cats or dogs inside during the winter can lead to more pet dander in the air. When dander, (dead skin flakes), is breathed in, it can trigger allergies.

Mold

As the temperature drops, dying leaves become a breeding ground for mold and mildew. Exposure to clothing and shoes allows theses irritants a free ride inside your home, where they can live and spread further. People with allergies may then experience itchiness, sneezing, and runny noses.

Dry Air

You may just be trying to keep warm, but turning on the heat in the winter can dry out the air in your home. As a result, your sinuses can become dehydrated, leading to inflammation. Unfortunately, this makes it easier for your allergies to act up.

Solutions
people on beach

AltaMed knows you’d rather be enjoying the winter season than blowing your nose. Luckily, there are steps you can take to minimize and manage your winter allergies.

Try these helpful tips:

  • Install a humidifier to balance the dry air caused by heating your home. Remember though, you don’t want to over-humidify either, as this can cause mold. Both doctors and construction professionals recommend a target of 50 percent humidity.
  • Stay hydrated. Along with a humidifier, drinking water regularly will help your body the fight irritants.
  • Vacuum frequently to remove dander and other dirt particles from your floors, carpets, and furniture.
  • Wash your sheets weekly using warm water, as high heat can help kill allergens. For extra protection, try adding hypoallergenic cases for pillows and mattresses to trap dust mites.
  • Give your pet a bath once per week, and be sure to keep them out of your bedroom if you suffer from allergies.
  • Over-the-counter medications can help relieve most allergy symptoms, from runny noses to itchy eyes. These medications will be most effective if you start taking them early. If you suffer from allergies every winter, try starting on medicine shortly before your symptoms usually appear.

Want more tips or have questions you’d like answered? Stop by an AltaMed Care location today! You can find your nearest location by clicking here: https://www.altamed.org/find