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Health Notes: Allergies, Part 2

06/03/2014 08:00AM ● Published by Aimee Cormier

By Ellen S. Mullen M.D.

This month we’re continuing our discussion of the causes and cures of allergies. 

If you are allergic to pets you may need to give your pets away or at least keep them outside. Once you remove a pet from your house it takes 4 weeks or more for dander to die down so a short trial is often not helpful.

Dust and dust mites can be reduced by removing drapes, feather pillows, upholstered furniture and soft toys.  Replacing carpet with wood or linoleum and mopping often with a damp mop will help decrease dust and dust mites. Vacuuming soft furniture, curtains and floors often with a vacuum that has a high-efficiency particulate air filter is also helpful.

Filters can be placed on air vents and duct cleaning reduces indoor dust. Bedding should be washed in hot water (>130 degrees F) every 7-10 days. Don’t use mattress pads and cover mattresses and pillows with plastic covers.

There are many medicines which can help relieve allergy symptoms.  You should always consult your doctor before taking these medications. Antihistamines tend to dry up drainage. Pseudoephedrine is a decongestant and helps relieve stuffy noses but can cause your blood pressure to elevate.

Nasal steroid sprays help to shrink the mucous membranes which are swollen in the nose. Some doctors may also use steroid pills or shots.  Eye drops are sometimes used if there is a lot of eye involvement. Singulair is another prescribed medicine which can help with allergy symptoms.

Your doctor may also recommend allergy shots. Allergy shots contain a small amount of the allergens you are allergic to until your body gets used to the allergen and no longer overreacts to them. Allergy shots are used when the allergens you are sensitive to can be identified and you cannot avoid them.  It may take months or years to finish allergy shot treatment.

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