If you suffer from frequent sneezing, stuffiness, itchiness, and runny nose, you may have allergic rhinitis. According to the American Academy of Allergy Asthma Immunology, your immune system controls how your body defends itself. After identifying a pollen, mold, or animal allergen as an invader, it starts a chain reaction. Your immune system overreacts by producing Immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies. They travel to cells that release histamine and other chemical mediators, causing an allergic reaction.
Pollen that the air carries during different times of the year in various parts of the country causes seasonal allergic rhinitis, hay fever. Common indoor allergens also can trigger perennial allergic rhinitis with symptoms occurring year round. They include dried skin flakes, urine, and saliva on pet dander, mold spores, dust mite droppings, and cockroach particles. Inflammation in your nasal lining increases sensitivity to inhalants, so smoke and strong odors as well as temperature and humidity changes also may cause aggravate your allergies.
Current Over-the-Counter Allergy Medications
The first step to managing your allergic rhinitis is to avoid allergens that cause troublesome symptoms. When that isn’t possible or doesn’t provide enough relief, your allergist may recommend a variety of medications. Antihistamines are popular for blocking histamines and relieving sneezing, itching, and runny nose.
Watch Dr. Benoit Tano, M.D., explain how over-the-counter (OTC) allergy medications alleviate annoying symptoms. To compare multiple brands, shop over-the-counter allergy medications online. You’ll find popular remedies including Benadryl, Claritin, Zyrtec, and many more — all at affordable prices.
Scientists continue creating new ways to combat allergies. In addition to standard OTC remedies, two innovations are becoming available that offer new and unique ways to improve life-disrupting symptoms. Check out two of the latest.
World’s First Allergy-Friendly Airline Takes Off
Air travel can be challenging for passengers with allergies or sensitivities to strong scents, pet dander, and certain foods. The European Centre for Allergy Research Foundation (ECARF) notes that allergies affect more than 30 percent of Europe’s population. In the U.S., the Asthma and Allergy Foundation estimates that 35 million people suffer from hay fever due to pollen allergies.
With these statistics in mind, Swiss Airlines began offering a welcome solution in May. It’s the world’s first carrier to receive ECARF’s allergy-friendly certification. The international airline that offers long-haul flights between seven U.S. cities and Switzerland is minimizing the presence of onboard allergens. ECARF’s advisory board evaluated Swiss Airlines based on a two-page list of special criteria before awarding its allergy-friendly quality seal of approval.
A high-efficiency air-conditioning system filters pollen from outdoors and animal hair from onboard pets. First- and business-class cabins provide pillows with synthetic material stuffing instead of down feathers, which may trigger allergic reactions. Updated restroom features include hypoallergenic soap for sensitive skin. Swiss Airlines has stopped using decorative flowers and air fresheners that can cause respiratory tract irritations. Swiss Airlines cabin crewmembers have received training to respond to allergic emergencies and will provide histamine tablets for passengers who need them.
No snack bags contain peanuts. Individualized accommodations include food and beverage alternatives for lactose- and gluten-intolerant passengers. Now you can enjoy lactose-free coffee cream and Swiss chocolate bars. Order a special meal to suit your needs on a long-haul flight or in business class on a European flight. ECARF members or other authorized people make unannounced checks during the two-year certification period. Then reassessment is necessary. Hopefully, Swiss Airlines is paving the way for future American-based allergy-friendly flights.
Grass Allergy Tablets May Replace Shots
Allergy shots for constant symptoms and long-term control with less need for daily medications have been the standard allergist’s recommendation. This treatment involves receiving injections at regular intervals at your doctor’s office over a period of years. Now, researchers have discovered an alternative way to reduce this considerable time commitment. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved sublingual immunotherapy tablets that could replace allergy shots for grass pollen and ragweed soon. Just place pills under your tongue to tamp down your immune system. Like allergy shots, they’ll help your body become accustom to allergens gradually.
About 29 million Americans are allergic to grass pollens, according to Greer Laboratories, the company marketing the tablets. Dr. David Lang, chairman of allergy and clinical immunology at the Cleveland Clinic, who isn’t involved in testing the new treatment, notes that grass pollens are the most common seasonal allergens. A daily pill that includes five strains of freeze-dried grass extracts will be more convenient than going to a doctor’s office repeatedly for shots. You need to start the daily pills months before allergy season begins. Clinical remission lasts two years after stopping treatment.
Europeans have used immunotherapy pills for years. Soon, U.S. doctors can start giving patients oral doses of the injectable extracts. A second pill for ragweed allergy is awaiting FDA approval. Lang said that this new treatment will be useful for people who have the worst symptoms during grass season. But for year-round relief, he still recommends shots because your allergist can customize the mix of extracts to address your specific allergens.
Seek Treatment to Avoid Serious Complications
Untreated allergy symptoms can lead to serious health complications. You may develop acute or chronic sinusitis, asthma, sleep disturbances including apnea, an overbite due to excessive mouth breathing, and/or middle-ear infections. See your doctor for proper diagnosis and treatment to relieve symptoms and increase your health outcome.