Sweeping Away Allergies

Sweeping Away Allergies

Springtime is upon us. The time for kite flying and bluebonnets has finally arrived. But with this also comes the frustration of seasonal allergies for many of us. In an allergy prone city like Austin, it’s difficult to beat the sneezing and itching eyes but there are plenty of natural remedies that could help you enjoy spring more this year.

According to the University of Texas Health Center, Austin is ranked as one of the worst cities for respiratory allergies. Normally, they are just irritations coughing, runny noses and watery eyes. But if untreated and constant, they can also lead to bacterial infections.

At Allergy and Asthma Center of Austin, William C. Howland, a Board Certified physician in Internal Medicine and Allergy and Immunology says there are ways to enjoy the outdoors even if you are prone to bad allergies.

Allergies in Central Texas“Even though Austin is ‘the allergy capitol of the world,’ with proper treatment most people can feel fine and really enjoy all the wonderful things about Central Texas,” Howland said.

Most respiratory allergies are just major annoyances that can make you feel lousy. However, sometimes they can lead to bacterial infections in your sinuses, ears or lungs, which may require antibiotics. In people with asthma, allergies can lead to serious symptoms. Allergies can also aggrevate asthma symptoms. Respiratory allergies are caused by an overreaction of the immune system to a trigger that causes inflammation and/or swelling of tissues in the nose, eyes, ears, sinuses, throat, larynx (“voice box”) and airways.

Common triggers are pollens, dust, cigarette smoke, air pollutants and animal dander. So the question remains: How to avoid the mess? Of course there are plenty of medicines catering to the symptoms, which include sinus pressure, dry coughing, itching eyes and throat, and headaches, to name a few. Zyrtec, Claritin and Allegra are just some of the specific medicines used to treat such symptoms.

Allen K. Lieberman, MD with the Allergy and Asthma Center of Austin is also a Board Certified physician in Internal Medicine and Allergy and Immunology. He says it’s all about continually taking care of yourself and making sure to visit the doctor when symptoms appear.

However, there are little things you can do to help prevent allergies. One of the most important things to do is keep clean. Change your clothes and shower often. Avoid the outdoors (especially in the morning) when the pollen counts are high in your area.

It is also important to remember to keep the indoors clean with air purifiers and clean pets. Because honey actually has some pollen in it, it’s very useful in building immunity to allergies. The key is to buy raw, local honey.

For sinuses, Neti Pots are a great choice. A little boat with saline solution, water is poured in one nostril and streamed out through the other, literally washing the dirt out of your nose. The pots can be purchased at most local drug stores.

Regardless of how bad they may seem, it’s important to not give up on your allergies. There are all kinds of solutions to try that could ultimately offer you a bit of relief this spring.

Signs and Symptoms

  • Runny, itchy nose
  • Sneezing
  • Itchy, swollen, burning and/or watery eyes
  • A dry cough or one that produces minimal phlegm
  • Ear congestion or popping
  • Sinus pressure or stuffiness
  • Headache
  • Hoarseness
  • Mucous drainage from the back of the nose down the back of the throat (post-nasal drainage)
  • Throat tickle
  • Itching of the soft tissue at the upper, back part of your mouth

3 fundamental ways of treating allergic individuals

  1. Avoidance
    If allergens can be avoided, symptoms will not occur. Unfortunately, most allergens are impossible to completely avoid. Avoidance measures are most practical for indoor allergens such as pets and house dust mites and for food and drug allergy.
  2. Medication
    Many medications are available for controlling allergic symptoms. Prescription nasal sprays, lung inhalers and oral medications may temporarily relieve symptoms. Unfortunately, multiple medications may be required, side effects may occur and medicines do not affect the underlying allergic sensitivity. Symptoms may recur when medications are stopped.
  3. Allergy Shots (Immunotherapy)
    The injection of increasingly stronger concentrations of specific allergens can lead to a gradual reduction in allergic symptoms. After several months, most people taking shots feel better and need less medication. A 3 to 5 year course of shots often results in reduced symptoms for years. Shots can almost eliminate the possibility of life threatening allergic reactions to bee or fire ant stings. Unfortunately allergy shots are not effective for food or drug allergic reactions.


Courtesy of Allergy and Asthma Center of Austin.


Allergies in Austin, Texas