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Bad allergies? You aren’t alone

Allergic rhinitis and conjunctivitis, commonly called “allergies,” torment more than 50 million people in our country. Most people with allergies experience some symptoms before age 10, and 80 percent have symptoms before age 20.

If you or your family are among them, then you are all too familiar with the runny nose, sneezing, itchy and watery eyes, nasal congestion, and sinus pressure allergies cause.

Allergies can be triggered by particles both inside and outside the home, and be present during part or all of the year. Indoors, dust mite and pet dander proteins and mold can set off an allergic reaction in the eyes, skin, and respiratory tract. In the spring and summer, pollen allergies can cause flu-like symptoms called “hay fever.” With “hay fever,” no actual fever is present.

While allergic triggers often decrease in your 50s and 60s, most patients need to manage the issue for several decades. Avoiding exposure to allergens and taking over-the-counter medications can usually control mild allergy symptoms. Moderate to severe allergies can cause fatigue and poor sleep and can make it harder to exercise and control asthma. Allergies can also lead to inappropriate use of medication and missed school and work days. Moderate to severe allergies require more intervention because the symptoms keep people from enjoying the outdoors and impact their quality of life.

An allergy doctor can help you develop the right plan to relieve your symptoms. Your doctor will start by gaining an understanding of your medical history and performing a physical exam. Next, they will suggest appropriate skin or blood testing to identify which allergens are impacting you. Based on the findings, your doctor can recommend preventative measures, medications, and possibly immunotherapy (allergy shots or tablets).

Talk to an allergy doctor to learn what you can do to manage your unique allergy symptoms.

Dr. Raj Srinivasan is an Allergy, Asthma & Immunology Department specialist. He enjoys being able to focus on patients, helping them control allergic problems and achieve a better quality of life.