December 16, 2019

Why You Need to Stop Ignoring Your Allergy Symptoms

Allergies are a nuisance, but left untreated for long periods of time can contribute and even cause other health conditions.

What are the usual allergy symptoms?

  • Runny or Stuffy Nose
  • Sneezing
  • Itchy Eyes
  • Coughing
  • Sinus Headaches
  • Post-nasal drip (Mucus that drips down the back of the nose into the throat)

A lot of these symptoms go hand-in-hand with that of having a common cold. It can sometimes be tricky telling the difference between having a cold or allergies, but the easiest way to tell them apart is time

If you notice your symptoms lasting over 10 days or coming up during the same time of year each year, you’re likely suffering from allergies. For a more in-depth guide on how to tell if you have a cold or allergies, check out our quiz

What happens when allergy symptoms go untreated

Inflammation and Infection 

One of the main problems of untreated allergies is the mucus and other gunk in our sinuses. Our sinuses are simply pipes, and like other pipes they get clogged if not cleaned and cleared out properly. 

Unchecked allergies can eventually lead to inflammation and infection. Things like ear infections and sinus infections can start to occur more frequently, which can then lead to even more serious problems like asthma or structural sinus issues that will require surgical intervention.

Lack of sleep & fatigue

Persistent allergy symptoms can cause serious effects on the quantity and quality of your sleep. There are the obvious issues where it is hard to fall asleep when your nostrils are burning, you can’t breathe, or you have a terrible headache. Having persistent sleep troubles can create sleep disorders like insomnia that your body “learns” over time and can be difficult to treat.

The other part is the quality of your sleep can also be affected. Constant nasal twitching, waking up intermittently throughout the night, and poor breathing are all things that can be caused by untreated allergies. As your body accumulates multiple nights of poor sleep and no proper rest, you can become slower and less focused in your day-to-day activities. We all need proper sleep and no amount of coffee or energy drinks are going to be able to get you back to feeling refreshed. Work, school, and life can be hard enough as it is sometimes, so this fatigue can have a serious effect on your mental well-being and job performance.

Developed mood disorders

Things like chronic fatigue, poor sleep quality, and lack of focus are much like allergies in that when untreated, worse conditions can follow. The stress and anxiety put on from the memory problems and lack of productivity caused by these symptoms can put you in a bad spot. 

This is why we think of treating allergies as one of the most positive ways to change your life. These are all conditions that are caused simply by not addressing the root of your allergies and letting them fester into something ugly and life-impacting. 

DIY tips to relieve your allergy symptoms

These are things you can do right now to get some temporary relief from your allergy symptoms. 

Do Nasal Rinses

One thing we recommend to almost all of our patients is to do regular nasal saline rinses with a Neti Pot, NeilMed, or similar alternative. This is the best at-home way to not only clear your nasal passages, but also immediately start feeling relief. They’re completely safe to do, we just recommend using distilled water.

Allergy-proof your home

A lot of us are unnecessarily exposed to allergens because we don’t take the right precautions. Here’s the top things you should be doing to make sure allergies aren’t overtaking the inside of your home.

  • Change air filters regularly. If you have pets or live in a climate where A/C is used a lot, you’re most likely not changing your air filters enough. Try to aim for once a month if one of these situations describe you.
  • Wash off and change clothes when coming home. Pollen is many times microscopic, so it’s hard for us to tell how much we’re bringing into our home. When you come home after being outside, your clothes should be immediately put in your hamper and you should at least wash off your hands and face. 
  • Create a weekly cleaning routine. Dust-mites and mold are the “big bads” of indoor allergens, and they are most easily squashed by a regular cleaning routine. Dust loves to collect when we’re not paying attention and letting dust stack up on blinds and ceiling fans is not helping your allergies. We all know mold loves damp conditions, so regular cleaning, inspection, and dusting can alert you to see any leaky faucets or standing water in the nooks and crannies of your home.
  • Get a HEPA Air Purifier. Probably THE most effective way to eliminate allergens from your home is an air purifier. We spend 90% of our time indoors, so it’s important to make sure that the air we’re breathing isn’t hurting us. Air purifiers also are very flexible for different budgets. You don’t need to get a $500 one that purifies your entire home when you could get two $25-50 ones that just cover your living room and sleeping space. 
  • Purchase a dust mite allergen cover for mattresses & pillows.  Getting an impermeable zippered dust mite allergen mattress cover (along with regular washing of bedding in hot water/hot dryer) is one of the best ways to help remove dust mite exposure. These can be purchased online (ie. Amazon) and in stores (ie. Target, Walmart) and are typically inexpensive.

Take allergy medication effectively

It can be daunting with the amount of different allergy medications available, but it’s important to choose the right one and make sure you’re taking it to its full effectiveness. 

Read the directions carefully before use. If a medication doesn't work like it’s supposed to or is giving side effects, you should speak with your doctor. 

How to get long-term relief from your allergy symptoms

Proper allergy treatment is tailored for each person’s allergies and their lifestyles. You need to visit a local allergist to get guidance and knowledge to get the right treatment. So, while we can’t give you a recommendation of what treatment is right for you, we can give you an overview of the three (3) main ways to treat allergies.

ExACT Immunoplasty

This is the newest form of treatment and by far the fastest. ExACT Immunoplasty℠ has you getting three (3) injections in clinic over an eight (8) week period which studies have shown gives you the equivalent of 3-5 years of being on other forms of allergy immunotherapy like allergy drops or shots. 

Allergy Drops

If a procedure like ExACT Immunoplasty℠ doesn’t seem right for you, allergy drops are a wonderful option. Drops have been used for decades and are by far the most convenient option for patients as they are taken at home and require only once yearly trips to an allergist’s clinic after the initial testing is done and drops are received. 

Allergy Shots

Allergy shots (or injections) are a very affordable option for many patients as they are covered (at least to a certain extent) by several insurances. Shots require regular trips to the clinic, but gives patients a very streamlined and easy-to-follow routine.

If you’re looking to get long term relief from your allergies, our allergy specialists at Aspire Allergy & Sinus can help you achieve that. Come see us and request an appointment today!

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About The Author:

Haley Overstreet, MD

Dr. Overstreet completed her Family Medicine Residency at The University of Alabama Family Medicine Residency in Tuscaloosa. After spending 3 years practicing Family Medicine in Austin, she's happy to be working in a more specialized practice focusing on the diagnosis and treatment of both seasonal and food allergies.