We’re thrilled Dr. Posthumus from Allergy Partners of Fredericksburg is back as our March expert. With spring and pollen are in the air, the timing couldn’t be better. Let’s get right down to it with facts, tips, and myth-busting you need to keep your histamines happy.
What makes Allergy Partners stand out?
At Allergy Partners of Fredericksburg we strive for excellence in patient care by providing compassionate, comprehensive and cutting-edge therapies for nasal and eye allergies, hives, chronic sinusitis, asthma, eczema, venom allergy, and food and drug allergies. We have four doctors and a nurse practitioner to get patients in quickly, as no one wants to wait to get relief from an itchy rash, asthma or allergies.
What steps can we take at home to prep for allergy season?
There are many steps you can take at home to get ready for allergy season if you have suffered from pollen allergy in the past.
First, starting over-the-counter allergy medications a few weeks before pollen season can help them be more effective when the pollen counts get very high. This is not easy to predict, but some time in March is reasonable to start if you have spring allergies.
Second, using your air conditioner and keeping the windows closed and changing the HVAC air filters can help you at home to avoid the pollen, at least when indoors.
Third, using a saline nasal spray to rinse out the nasal passages after outdoor activities can reduce symptoms. Another measure is wearing a mask over your mouth and nose when outdoors during high pollen count days. If this sounds like you though, then it is time to see an allergist and consider allergy shots.
If you get allergy shots, do you need to keep getting them throughout your life?
The beneficial effects on the symptoms of allergies begin during the first year of therapy and continue throughout the period in which the patient receives injections. There is a consensus among professional allergy societies that an initial course of allergy shots should consist of three to five years of maintenance treatment, which is typically given once or twice a month. After this, the clinician and patient should meet to review overall impact on quality of life and, based upon these factors, decide if they will continue treatment. We counsel patients that several more years of continued relief is typical after allergy shots are discontinued although there is a risk of earlier relapse that is not predictable. With relapse, it is possible to start shots again.
Can I build a tolerance to an OTC allergy medication?
Yes, with prolonged use of antihistamines they may lose their effectiveness. This is called tachyphylaxis. This is less likely to occur with other allergy medications like nasal steroid sprays.
Are allergies hereditary?
Yes, the risk of nasal allergies is higher if your parents have allergies. Other congenital risk factors for nasal allergies include being firstborn, male and being born during the pollen season.
What three myths about allergies do you want people to stop believing immediately?
a. Hypoallergenic cat and dog breeds.
Unfortunately, there is no such thing as a truly hypoallergenic dog or cat. They release allergens in saliva, sebaceous glands and other glands. It’s not the fur people are allergic to. Some breeds are more bothersome for allergy sufferers than others though.
b. Shellfish allergy and iodine allergy
Radiologists and cardiologists often use contrast with iodine during CT scans and other procedures for better imaging. Since shellfish contain iodine, in the past many physicians have linked a contrast reaction to a shellfish allergy. However, this is false, and a shellfish allergy has nothing to do with the reaction. In fact, elemental iodine is not and cannot be an allergen as it found in the human body. Patients can be allergic to povidone iodine, which is used sterilize the skin for procedures and patients can have allergic reactions to iodinated contrast dye, but it is not because of the iodine itself.
c. Allergy medications don’t work.
I must have to live with my allergies. Don’t believe this! If you think you may have allergies or asthma and the symptoms are difficult to control, it is important to seek the right medical help. A board-certified allergist is a specialist in the diagnosis and treatment of allergies, asthma and other diseases of the immune system. Allergists have completed medical school, at least three years of residency in pediatrics or internal medicine, then at least two years of specialized training in allergy and immunology. Testing by an allergist is safe and effective for patients of all ages. Allergy tests, combined with the knowledge of your allergy specialist to interpret them, can give precise information about what you are allergic to and develop a treatment plan to manage your symptoms.
Want more allergy info? You won’t want to miss our Facebook Live Ask The Expert session this month! Watch our social media pages for details and be sure to follow Allergy Partners of Fredericksburg. www.facebook.com/APFredericksburg/