Friday, April 17, 2009

Allergy Season is on it's way.

It's becoming that time of year for another bout of respiratory problems, the allergy season. This time of year brings on the great problem called Hay Fever and there are more than 35,000,000 Americans who suffer from this type of problem.

Hay Fever is a type of allergen rhinitis triggered by pollens from different plants this time of year because they are all beginning to grow. Some major players in the problem of pollen are the Birch tree which can cause problems for 15-20% of suffers and then the largest player for people who suffer from the type of problem is grass pollen, it is estimated that 90% of hay fever sufferers are affected by grass pollen. Hay Fever is not caused by a virus its caused from a allergen. Hay fever can begin at any age, you're most likely to develop it during childhood to early adulthood. It's common for the severity of reactions to change over the years and for most people the symptoms tend to diminish slowly, often over decades.

Some common trigger of Hay Fever can include:
  • Tree pollen, common in the spring
  • Grass pollen, common in the late spring and summer
  • Weed pollen, common in the fall
  • Spores from fungi and molds, which can be worse during warm-weather months
  • Dust mites or cockroaches
  • Dander (dried skin flakes and saliva) from pets such as cats, dogs or birds
  • Cockroaches
  • Spores from indoor and outdoor fungi and molds

Some of the signs to look for in a allergen problem are:
  • Sneezing more than usual
  • Eyes that continually water
  • Cold symptoms that last more than 10 days without fever
  • Repeated ear and sinus infections
  • Prolonged loss of smell or taste
  • Frequent throat clearing or hoarseness
  • Persistent coughing
  • Sinus pressure and facial pain
  • Swollen, blue-colored skin under the eyes (allergic shiners)
  • Decreased sense of smell or taste
Where this comes in for Respiratory Therapy is the coughing, doctors really like to give nebs for coughing to help it stop so there goes our case load in the E.R. more neb treatments for coughing. Asthma though is one problems which often occur along with Hay Fever, along with Sinusitus, Eczema, and Ear infections.

The best way for these patients to limit problems to these allergens is to keep from being exposed to much to these allergens:
  • Close doors and windows during pollen season.
  • Don't hang laundry outside — pollen can stick to sheets and towels.
  • Use air conditioning in your house and car.
  • Use an allergy-grade filter in the ventilation system.
  • Avoid outdoor activity in the early morning when pollen counts are highest.
  • Stay indoors on dry, windy days.
  • Use a dehumidifier to reduce indoor humidity.
  • Use a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter in your bedroom.
  • Avoid mowing the lawn or raking leaves, which stirs up pollen and molds.
  • Wear a dust mask when doing outdoor activities such as gardening.
These are just some ideas I found reading about this online and if you suffer from hay fever you might want to take some of these precautions.

There are quite a few types of medications which help with Hay Fever:

  • Nasal corticosteroids. These nasal sprays help prevent and treat the inflammation caused by hay fever. Examples include fluticasone (Flonase), fluticasone (Veramyst), mometasone (Nasonex) and beclomethasone (Beconase).
  • Oral corticosteroids. Corticosteroid medications in pill form, such as prednisone, are sometimes used to relieve severe allergy symptoms.
  • Antihistamines. These oral medications and nasal sprays can help with itching, sneezing and runny nose, but have less effect on congestion. Older over-the-counter antihistamines such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl) and clemastine (Tavist) work as well as newer ones, but can make you drowsy. Newer oral antihistamines are less likely to make you drowsy, but are more costly than the older antihistamines. Over-the-counter examples include loratadine (Claritin, Alavert) and cetirizine (Zyrtec). Fexofenadine (Allegra) is available by prescription. The prescription antihistamine nasal spray azelastine (Astelin) starts to relieve symptoms within minutes of use. It can be used up to eight times a day, but can cause drowsiness. Side effects include a bad taste in the mouth right after use.
  • Decongestants. These medications are available in over-the-counter and prescription liquids, tablets and nasal sprays. Over-the-counter oral decongestants include Sudafed, Actifed and Drixoral. Nasal sprays include phenylephrine (Neo-Synephrine) and oxymetazoline (Afrin). Because oral decongestants can raise blood pressure, avoid them if you have high blood pressure (hypertension). Oral decongestants can also worsen the symptoms of prostate enlargement, making urination more difficult. Don't use a decongestant nasal spray for more than two or three days at a time because it can cause rebound congestion when used longer.
  • Cromolyn sodium. This medication (NasalCrom) is available as an over-the-counter nasal spray that must be used several times a day. It helps relieve hay fever symptoms by preventing the release of histamine.
  • Leukotriene modifiers. Montelukast (Singulair) is a prescription tablet taken to block the action of leukotrienes — immune system chemicals that cause allergy symptoms such as excess mucus production. It has proved effective in treating allergic asthma, and it's also effective in treating hay fever. Like antihistamines, this medication is not as effective as inhaled corticosteroids.
  • Nasal atropine. Available in a prescription nasal spray, ipratropium bromide (Atrovent) helps relieve a severe runny nose by preventing the glands in your nose from producing excess fluid. It's not effective for treating congestion, sneezing or postnasal drip. The drug is not recommended for people with glaucoma or men with an enlarged prostate.
This turned out longer than I expected it to but as a Therapist I figured it something we will deal with in the coming months and one little more tidbit of information about Hay Fever:

Hay fever doesn't mean you're allergic to hay. Despite its name, hay fever is almost never triggered by hay, and it doesn't cause a fever.

Keep driving on RT's.


emjed said...

Much of the reports I read in my search for a better understanding of allergies suggest a thorough cleaning routine, closing windows, taking medication and in some cases replacing carpets and furnishings. As I am reluctant to become a prisoner to medication, my research lead to a new product called a liquid ionizer. I was interested to see it clears the air right across the room with a stream of liquid ions and then stops the allergens re-entering the room when you move around or disturb furnishings. This means less rigorous cleaning (phew) and no need to replace carpets, curtains and furnishings with allergy friendly – and expensive – alternatives.

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Every year, the allergy season is like a dreadful event that's unstoppable, making it miserable for those with weak immune system. Thanks for the tips and the practicals on how to survive this unwelcome season.

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