Avoid Allergy Triggers-it's Your First Line of Defense
Some people find that their allergy symptoms almost disappear when
they take the time to remove allergy triggers from their surroundings. You
may too. Be on the alert for allergy triggers. The most common allergy
triggers are pollen, dust mites, pet dander, mold, strong chemical fumes
and odors (including perfumes, fragrances in household cleaners and
detergents), smoke, and air pollution. Some people also have food
How can you reduce allergy triggers in your environment at home and
at work? Set up systems to reduce or eliminate allergy triggers when you
can. For example, reduce dust in your office by filing memos and other
papers on a regular schedule, maybe every Friday. Keep pets off furniture
to avoid pet dander. Drive with the windows closed and the air conditioner
on during high-pollen seasons. For more information and detailed
suggestions, refer to the BE ALLERGY ALERT! brochure, Protecting Yourself.
Handling Allergy Symptoms
This is where it really pays dividends to BE ALLERGY ALERT! The more
you become aware of your allergy symptoms, the better you'll be able to
explain them to your doctor or healthcare professional. That will help you
get the treatment plan that will be the most effective and convenient for
When do you have symptoms? Do you have them most often in the early
morning, during the day, in the evening, or while you sleep? Do they get
better or worse when you go outside, to work, to the gym, to a friend's
house, to a mall or movie theater? What are your symptoms? Do you have a
stuffy nose or a runny nose? A dry cough, itchy throat, rash, headache? Do
you find yourself short of breath or wheezing after physical activity?
What makes you feel better? Are you more comfortable on cold or
warmer days? Are you taking any allergy medicine now? Does it seem to be
working? If not, why?
What are you doing to reduce or manage your symptoms? Keep a small
notebook in your pocket or desk to record your symptoms throughout the
day. It will be very useful in identifying the allergy triggers you are
most sensitive to and will help you and your doctor make a plan to deal
Excellent communication between you and your doctor is essential.
See the doctor regularly. With allergies, the best approach is working to
reduce or prevent allergy attacks or complications. That means you need to
see your doctor on a regular schedule throughout the year, not just during
high-pollen season when your allergies may be more serious.
Use the Allergy Risk-Assessment Hotline. Call the toll-free number
to get personalized information about allergies or other respiratory
conditions. Request a written summary of questions asked and your answers.
You can then review the information you receive through the Allergy
Risk-Assessment Hotline with your doctor. It's a very good way to provide
your physician with all the details necessary to get an accurate diagnosis
and receive appropriate treatment.
Tell your doctor what medications you're taking for other conditions
and other details about your general health. Describe all over-the-counter
and prescription medications you are taking, and why. Describe your
general eating, exercise, and sleeping habits. Tell the doctor when, what,
and how often you drink alcoholic beverages or smoke.
Ask about medications and treatment choices. The good news is that
there has been a great deal of research on allergies in recent years.
Several of the newer medications work effectively and do not cause
drowsiness. Ask your doctor which medications would help you manage your
allergy symptoms. Also ask your doctor to explain how these medications
work to help your body resist allergy attacks. You should also ask about
interactions with other medications and alcohol or possible side effects.
Decide on a treatment plan, and follow it carefully. Check all the
details. Do you have to adapt the plan for your lifestyle? If so, how? For
example, if you travel often, should you take your pillow with you? Should
you take your medicine on your home time zone schedule or can you take it
based on current time where you are? If you play tennis, should you play
on an indoor court during high-pollen months?
Explain your allergy treatment plan to all the healthcare
professionals who treat you. Also, tell coaches and people who provide
wellness or personal care services. Most people go to several different
medical specialists for healthcare services. Tell your dentist, eye
doctor, and other healthcare professionals what has been prescribed for
your allergies so that whatever they recommend does not create problems or
reduce the effectiveness of your allergy treatment plan.
Also describe your allergies to people who help you exercise or do
personal care services for you such as massage or physical therapy. For
example, a coach should be informed if you are taking medication and if
there are any restrictions on your activity levels when the pollen or dust
levels in the air are high. Another example: a massage or physical
therapist who knows about your allergies can choose non-allergenic creams,
oils, or lotions.