nasal spray

5 Easy Ways to Beat Allergies This Season

April 17, 2013 at 5:10 pm , by

Itchy, watery eyes, sniffles, sore throat. Sound familiar? Yup, it’s allergy season. I thought I somehow escaped it this time around, but I’ve spent the past week sneezing nonstop. And according to my Facebook feed, I’m not alone: “Allergies are really kicking my butt today,” one friend harped.

It doesn’t help that experts are expecting an especially tough spring for allergies this year, thanks to a slew of bad storms and a longer growing season. But there are plenty of things you can do to avoid annoying symptoms. Here are a few easy tips for staying one step ahead this spring.

Take meds as soon as you wake up.
The pollen count is highest in the morning, and symptoms will only get worse if you don’t keep ahead of them. If you can, avoid going on walks or heading outside in the early hours of the day, and don’t forget to take an antihistamine like Claritin, Zyrtec or Allegra as soon as you wake up.

Don’t stop at antihistamines.
Nasal sprays and neti pots can also help once symptoms get started, says Reed Erickson, M.D., the medical director of MedExpress. Prescription steroid sprays like Flonase can help reduce inflammation. Neti pots, which you fill with warm water and saline, can help flush out pollen and congestion, while soothing your sinuses.

Keep your windows closed.
You may feel tempted to let in all that fresh springtime air after a long winter. But don’t: you’ll just be letting allergens in, says Kevin Ronneberg, M.D., the associate medical director of Target. Another thing you can do, especially if you have itchy eyes, is skip your contacts or wear sunglasses when you have to venture outside, he adds.

Know your triggers.
“The best way to treat allergies is to avoid them,” says Dr. Ronneberg. While it may feel like you’re allergic to everything sometimes, it can help to know about your specific triggers so you can track them. If you don’t know what you’re allergic to, make an appointment with your doctor to get tested. The ACAAI is also hosting free allergy screenings across the country in May.

Get the App.
WebMD and Accuweather just released a new iPhone app that allows you to get daily weather forecasts and check allergen levels for pollen, trees and dust. Just input your location and it will give a three-day forecast, along with tips and tons of useful info. I tried it and loved that I could learn when pollen counts were high in my area.

Photo by zirconicusso, shutterstock.com


What You Need to Know About the H1N1 Vaccine

October 8, 2009 at 12:06 pm , by

EghrariThere are a lot of questions out there about the H1N1 vaccine, so we asked Dr. Jackie Eghrari-Sabet, M.D., to give us the scoop. She’s an allergist practicing in the Washington, DC Metro area, founder of Family Asthma & Allergy Care and a spokesperson for the American Academy of Asthma, Allergy and Immunology.

Who can get the H1N1 vaccine?
While anyone can ask their doctor for the H1N1 vaccine, pregnant women, people who live with or take care of babies younger than 6 months old, children and young adults (6 months to 24 years old), and healthcare personnel have first priority. Adults ages 24 to 65 who have a chronic disease (asthma, immunosuppressive diseases, chemotherapy, cardiac disease, kidney disease) are also in line for the vaccine. A recent study found that adults older than 65 years old have a “less robust” response to the H1N1 vaccine, as is the case with the seasonal vaccine, but these people are also at a lower risk of contracting swine flu.

Is one shot enough?

The single shot dose has been shown to be effective in people 10 years of age and older.  Children 9 years old and younger should receive the two-dose vaccine, spaced four weeks apart.

Does it matter whether I get the shot or the spray?
Both the shot and the spray have been show to be equally effective.  However, if you have a chronic respiratory disease such as asthma, you should get the shot.

Are there any side effects to the H1N1 vaccine?
Some people are worried that because the swine flu vaccine was developed so quickly, it might not be safe. However, there’s little cause for concern.  The H1N1 vaccine was created using the same process as the regular seasonal flu vaccine—we’ve just substituted H1N1 where we would have put another influenza strain.  You might feel a little achey and worn out as your body mounts an immunological response to the vaccine.  Like the seasonal flu vaccine, the H1N1 flu vaccine is grown in eggs, so people who have an egg allergy should consult their allergist about the appropriateness of receiving the vaccine.

Can I get it at the same time as my regular seasonal flu shot?
You should not get the H1N1 and seasonal flu nasal sprays at the same visit. However, you can receive swine flu shot at the same time as any other vaccine, including the seasonal flu vaccine.

Photo courtesy of Dr. Jackie Eghrari-Sabet.


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