1 AnswerDr. Patrick N. Brown, MD , Ear, Nose & Throat (Otolaryngology), answered on behalf of Methodist Ambulatory Surgery Hospital
1 AnswerDr. Christopher M. Webber, MD , Allergy & Immunology, answered on behalf of Sky Ridge Medical CenterAllergy symptoms are not the same as allergies. When someone says they have allergies they often mean they have allergy symptoms: itchy, sneezy, runny or stuffy nose; itchy red or watery eyes or any combination of these. Only 25 percent of people who have allergy symptoms actually have allergies (and just one-third of those people who actually say they have allergies have them).
There are three main causes of allergy symptoms: allergic rhinitis, irritant rhinitis or a combination of both (called mixed rhinitis). Allergic rhinitis is caused by a component of your immune system called the immunoglobin E (IgE) antibody. If you have allergic rhinitis, triggers like seasonal pollen, pets, dust mites, or even cockroaches cause the IgE immune system to react just like your immune system would react against a virus or bacteria.
Irritant rhinitis, or nonallergic rhinitis, is a direct irritation of your nose. In this case, something bothers the inside surface of the nose and causes allergy symptoms. Sometimes there is a local “dumb” or innate immune response as the cause of allergy symptoms. And sometimes it is a nerve response that causes the irritant allergy symptoms. But in each case, the cause of nonallergic rhinitis is not the full immune response seen as the cause of allergic rhinitis, but a more local response.
1 AnswerSome people have known allergens. If, however, you are exposed to something for the first time and are unaware that you’re allergic to it, you may have an allergic reaction. Symptoms could include developing a rash on your skin; labored breathing due to swelling of the airway to include the lips, tongue structure or larynx; your blood pressure may shoot up; or you may go into anaphylactic shock.
1 AnswerDr. Clifford W. Bassett, MD , Allergy & Immunology, answered
Facial markers that can indicate that you have allergies include allergic shiners (puffiness under eyelids), lines in the lower eyelid and a distinctive crease in your nose from rubbing. Watch allergist Clifford Bassett, MD, explain these symptoms.
1 AnswerDr. Clifford W. Bassett, MD , Allergy & Immunology, answeredHere are a few practical tips to help prevent allergy symptoms that affect your eyes and eyelids:
- Lids off: Gently irrigate your eyelids (while your eyes are closed) with a mild, tear-free "baby" shampoo to remove excess allergens and pollutants which may have accumulated. Check with your provider (especially if you wear contact lenses or have other eye problems) to learn whether anti-allergy eye and/or moisturizing drops may also be helpful and safe.
- Block your eyes: Wear sunglasses to block pollens from entering and getting into your eyes.
- Wash wisely: Rinse off your eyeglasses and shower and shampoo your hair every night to remove allergy causing pollens that collect during the day.
1 AnswerRealAge answeredA healthy diet won't cure you of your nasal allergy symptoms. But exciting new research suggests that certain foods could have the potential to help minimize them. Some foods have natural inflammation-dulling powers, which could be a boon to people suffering from allergies. Allergy symptoms are very much stoked by inflammatory responses. Check out these five foods that might help you breathe easier by quelling inflammation:
- Salmon: Fatty coldwater fish like salmon are packed with eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), two super-healthful omega-3 fatty acids that may reduce the risk of allergies. Trout and tuna are good sources, too. If you're not a fan of fish, opt for nuts and seeds instead. They contain alpha-linolenic acid, another type of omega-3 fatty acid.
- Grape juice: Grape juice is a good source of resveratrol, an antioxidant compound that seemed to reduce asthma inflammation in animal studies. Red wine is an even richer source of resveratrol, but keep in mind that alcohol may make nasal allergy symptoms worse for some people. Snacking on red grapes, blueberries and peanuts is another way to get more resveratrol into your diet.
- Beans: Legumes are an extra-healthful source of protein. Beans are loaded with folate. In a study, this B vitamin appeared to reduce the intensity of immune system reactions to common allergens. And using beans in place of red meat may do your allergies even more favors. Research shows that red meat may enhance inflammation, so cutting back could be good news for your symptoms.
- Apples: One a day just might help keep your allergy symptoms away. It's the quercetin in apples that may do the trick. Quercetin is a flavonoid thought to curb the production of histamine and help cool inflammation -- two culprits that play a role in allergic responses.
- Yogurt: Add the low-fat variety of this creamy dairy food to your antiallergy menu. Because yogurt contains loads of probiotics -- those good-for-your-gut bacteria. In a study, probiotics lowered levels of an immune substance known to fire up allergy symptoms.
- Carrots: A colorful diet is a healthful diet. Some studies suggest that brightly hued orange, yellow and red produce may help with allergies because they're brimming with cartoneoids -- compounds thought to have an allergy-quelling effect.
1 AnswerRealAge answeredYou can't control your allergies with a single approach. You've got to use every symptom-soothing tool you can. You also need to be consistent in your efforts and willing to explore new treatment options. Most of all, you need to have a step-by-step, strategic plan that keeps you organized and on track, so you can finally take control of your allergy symptoms.
Use the following steps to lay the groundwork for your own, personalized allergy-control plan:
- Partner with your doctor. Solid allergy relief won't come from a single visit to your doctor. Only a long-term relationship with your doctor will do -- one in which you proactively track and share your symptoms, ask the right questions and follow up if you're not getting the relief you need.
- Get allergy-tested -- even if you've been tested before. Your allergy triggers can change with time.
- Avoid your triggers. It's impossible to avoid all your triggers, but you should try. Minimizing exposure is the best way to prevent symptoms from flaring up.
- Follow your medication plan. That includes sticking with any over-the-counter or prescription medications for as long as your doctor recommends. Combine your allergy medications with other sinus-soothing steps to speed your relief.
- Live a healthy lifestyle. Kick bad habits, such as smoking, drinking too much alcohol or eating inflammation-inducing junk food.
- Don't forget the TLC. Saline sprays, neti pots, humidifiers and other self-care remedies provide extra layers of allergy-symptom relief, so don't skip this step.
1 AnswerDr. Mehmet Oz, MD , Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease), answered
If allergies are making your eyes puffy, forget the concealers and the foundation -- it's more effective to wipe away the pollen that's causing the problem, says allergy specialist and Dr. Oz Show guest Clifford Bassett. In this video, Dr. Bassett tells Dr. Oz about a product that makes it easy.
2 AnswersSymptoms of seasonal allergies include runny nose, watery eyes, sneezing, and general malaise. If you experience these symptoms in spring or fall and they are relieved by an over-the-counter allergy medicine such as Claritin or Zyrtec, you can safely diagnose yourself with seasonal allergies.