The Trumpet Medical Advisor
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Patricia Naeder, RN, BS.
April, 2010 Edition
SPRING ALLERGY TIPS!
Springtime is what we all look forward to, but for allergy sufferers it’s a bit of a challenge. Be pro-active so that you are prepared with your arsenal of therapies and your symptoms are kept to a minimum.
You should have your Physician monitoring your allergies so that you can maintain optimum health, but in the meantime here is a quick reference list for you:
1. Common offending allergens are called pollen. They are millions of particles that are released from simple trees, weeds, and goldenrod. They are more plentiful in the Spring.
2. When you are exposed to them they get in your eyes, nose, lungs, mouth, and skin. Your symptoms can be sneezing, itchy eyes, runny nose, cough, bronchospasm, headache, fainting, itchy skin (pruritis), nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and possibly breathing problems.
3. The offending allergen comes in contact with the body triggering the reaction. The body recognizes the attack and defense cells are sent out to come to your aid, and attack the offending allergen. In their attempt to immobilize the allergen, copious amounts of fluid are released, causing congestion in your nose, eyes, ears, sinuses, and possibly lungs too.
4. The ear has three basic sections:
a. An external ear canal that leads to your ear drum, (tympanic membrane).
b. Beyond that is your middle ear compartment which has the 3 little bones that vibrate when your hear sound. They are the stapes, incus, and malleus bones. There should only be air in your middle ear compartment. From the middle ear there is the Eustachian tube which leads to the back of your throat. This should also have only air in it to stabilize. If the Eustachian tubes are “crackling” that means you have fluid in there, which should not be there and needs treatment.
c. Beyond that is your inner ear which holds fluid and the semi-circular canals which are responsible for your balance and spatial orientation.
5. What can you do to treat the overload of fluid from your offending allergen? Anti-histamines will block enough of the histamine release, which is producing the fluid. during this microbiological battle, to give you relief.
You can get over-the-counter anti-histamines that are very effective. The traditional ones can cause drowsiness, which is great if you’re going to sleep, but choose the non-drowsy anti-histamines if you must work, go to school, or drive. There are also prescription anti-histamines that your Physician can prescribe for you.
Caution: Antihistamines are Not indicated to be used for asthma symptoms.
6. The next thing that you can do also, is take a decongestant. Decongestants will open your airway passages. Sometimes it only takes a small dose to achieve great relief with this class of medications. The goal is not to have so much fluid confined in small spaces where only air should be.
Warning about decongestants: They can stimulate your heart rate and because they constrict blood vessels, can raise your blood pressure, so consult your physician for guidance. Take the smallest amount needed to achieve relief. Combining an anti-histamine and decongestant usually gives the greatest relief. You can buy them in a combination pills or capsules at the pharmacy. Consult your Pharmacist for recommendations.
7. Another reason for treating this fluid accumulation is that the fluid that is now building up and staying trapped in your middle ear, Eustachian tube, sinuses, and nose, is providing a perfect breeding ground for bacteria to move in and multiply. Now you get a secondary infection. Caution: Antihistamines are Not indicated to be used for asthma symptoms.
8. For itchy eyes ask your doctor to prescribe eye drops, or ask your pharmacist what you can use that is over the counter that will both provide relief. Also you may want to get plain tears to rinse the grass pollen off of your eyes.
9. If your allergies are severe, your physician may prescribe a short course of tapering corticosteroids to quickly reduce inflammation throughout your body.
However, more recently steroids have been re-formulated into locally active nasal sprays in measured doses to achieve excellent results without the usual side effects of steroids.
*Remember that although anaphylactic shock does not happen frequently, it is very unpredictable and life threatening! It cuts off your airway, drops your BP and is a medical emergency, so RESPECT YOUR ALLERGIES!
In the ER many of my patients have told me, “But I’ve eaten that before" or, "I’ve gone through those woods before.”
Remember it doesn’t happen on the first time. It can happen ANYTIME.
Even though you have been exposed to specific offending allergens a thousand times before, on the one thousand and first time you can have an anaphylactic reaction. This is not to scare you but to inform you. Be intelligent about your allergies. Respect your allergies because they are unpredictable and non discriminating.
10. Cromolyn Sodium may also be prescribed by your physician. It is a nasal lavage solution.
11. If your allergies are making your life miserable, ask your physician to have some diagnostic tests done and look into either the de-sensitization injections under your skin, or The Newer drops that go under your tongue (sub-lingual) to desensitize you.
12. Steam inhalation, in moderation, may soothe your membranes.
Also if you add essential oils prescribed by your physician, it may be even more effective (aromatherapy).
13. Practice a healthy lifestyle with moderate exercise such as treadmill walking for ½ hour 5 days a week, avoiding walking outside. Avoid very strenuous exercise or sports; they batter your immune system. Keep the car windows closed. Use the air conditioner in your house, and get Heppa Filters. Change the filters frequently because they are catching all of the allergens.
Take a little anti-histamine ahead of time each day to head off the attacks.
14. Take your shower before bed! This removes the grass, tree, and weed pollens from your body, and keeps them off of your pillow cases and sheets! Use eye drops for the same rinsing action. If your eyes become pink ask your doctor or pharmacist for an anti-inflammatory eye drop, and use it regularly.
15. Stress makes allergies worse. Do whatever it takes to relax. Have regular massages. Listen to music. Play games. Make relaxing a priority every day. Build in regular breaks during your work day.
Be aware of people and things that raise your stress level. Reduce your calendar appointments, where possible.
Avoid or delete toxic people from your life wherever practical. If that is not possible, assign someone else to deal with them. If that is not possible sit down and compromise with them until there is harmony.
Pamper yourself. You deserve it, and your body needs it to re-charge. It raises all of the good chemicals in your body for a strong and healthy Immune System!
Good health to you! and remember: no matter how sick your are, never give up! There is an answer out here for you. Contact me.
|This column is for informational purposes only, and represents the opinion, and reporting of the author only. Any discussions with the Author should be presented to your own personal Physician for his/her Professional opinion. It is not meant to substitute for seeing one's own Medical Doctor, Psychiatrist, or Psychologist for Professional care.|