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Allergy Sufferers

Allergies

Allergies affect nearly 1/5 of the American people and are the cause of several billion office visits annually. The nose is the most common site affected by allergies. Allergy sufferers typically note nasal congestion or thin, watery nasal drainage accompanied by watery, itchy eyes and/or sneezing spells following exposure to an inhaled allergen. Grasses, trees, mold, dust and pet dander are some of the most common agents causing allergy symptoms.

Allergic rhinitis can be difficult to decipher from a sinus infection. Allergy symptoms typically last for a more prolonged time and are not associated with fever or purulent nasal secretions. Allergy symptoms are often seasonal, with a high incidence in the fall and spring when increased pollination from weeds, grasses and trees are noted.

Allergy treatment generally involves avoidance of the offending agent. This is often difficult or impossible with inhaled allergens. Medical treatment with antihistamines is the most common treatment to lessen the symptoms of allergy exposure. To be most effective, the medication should be taken prior to exposure to the allergen. Other treatment options
include nasal steroid sprays which significantly decrease the nasal swelling and drainage associated with inhalant allergies.

A significant number of sinus infections start secondary to poorly controlled allergies. Medication compliance is key to symptom control. Occasionally, medications alone are not effective in controlling allergy symptoms. In these cases, specific allergy testing is indicated to determine the offending agent. Based on the test results, allergy shots or immunotherapy may be prescribed.


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