The Doctors: Ask The Allergist
Millions of American suffer from allergies, and that means many people have questions about causes, prevention, and much more. Find out how air conditioning affects your allergies. Plus, Allergy Drops are all the rage in Europe, but are they safe? To tackle this topic, The Doctors got answers from allergist Dr Rita Kachru.
Dr Rita Kachru predicted a long and intense 2012 allergy season “because of the climate change and the warmer weather.” Heavy rains and snow combined with high winds create perfect conditions for allergies.
The Drs: How Allergens Affect The Body
Mast Cells line all the organs of the body, and they are designed to defend against infection. Pollen entering the nasal cavity, for example, will attach to these cells, causing a release of histamines and other chemicals in the body. That’s what’s behind your symptoms, and it’s also what makes it seem at first like you might have a cold. The key to beating symptoms is to minimize the natural reaction to allergies.
Does Air Conditioning Prevent Allergies?
Is there truth to the idea that Air Conditioning mitigates allergies? Yes, Dr Rita Kachru said this is true. Not only that, but the cool air minimizes both indoor and outdoor allergens. Mold and dust mites need humidity to survive, and keeping windows closed for the AC is limiting the amount of pollen and other junk that’s getting in your windows.
Another important step is to change your filter regularly, and use a HEPA filter for best results. Dr Travis Stork said that high pollution levels in large cities such as Los Angeles leads to worsening symptoms.
The Drs: Allergy Drops In the US?
A home viewer asked about effective allergy treatments. She said many over the counter products don’t work for her, and she is afraid of shots. She asked whether Allergy Drops are available in the United States, and if they are a safe treatment.
Dr Rita Kachru said that Allergy Drops have not been FDA approved in the US yet, though they are being used and studied in Europe. It is “a potentially exciting alternative for allergy shots,” she said, but it sounds like it will be at least a few years before the stateside medical community is caught up on this type of treatment.
One huge concern is the safety protocol for patients, who are giving themselves the oral drop treatments at home. If you do find these products online, you should be concerned that they are not licensed or regulated. Dr Travis said that serious allergy cases could be life threatening, and that is a cause for concern in severe cases.
The Doctors: Allergy Prevention Advice
Dr Kachru said the best treatment for seasonal allergies is prevention and avoidance. She said she recommends wood or tile floors over carpet, and avoiding fluffy pillows or curtains that can trap dust and allergens.
Keeping the windows closed at night and changing your HEPA filter regularly is also advisable. If pets set off your allergies, make sure they’re getting washed and groomed regularly, and don’t let them sleep in your bedroom at night.
When you are outside and know you’ve been exposed to pollen, plan to irrigate your nasal passages using saline once you get home. You can also do “a nasal gargle” in the shower to head off allergic reactions.
Antihistamines, allergy shots, and other treatments are available depending on the severity of your case. Ask your doctor whether you need to be referred to an allergy specialist. The best thing you can do is get ahead of your allergies before they get out of control. This will also keep you from being sidelined with severe allergy symptoms.