The development of allergies later in life is becoming more common. People who experience these symptoms for the first time often feel that they are experiencing some type of viral disease, but this is not always the case. We see it especially during peak seasons of allergies. During this time of year you will hear common complaints such as:
“My head feels full or heavy” often linked to sinus congestion.
“My throat hurts” often sore throat caused by post-congestion nasal drip.
“I feel sore or in disrepair,” often resulting from excessive sinus fluid production or resulting infections.
“I feel dizzy or unbalanced” often resulting from the sinus fluid that goes up in the ears (balance of effects).
“My stomach feels sick” often due to post nasal drip which causes mucus to accumulate in the stomach.
“My eyes are itchy and watery” often due to the exposure to allergens that releases histamines.
Whatever the source of the irritation or allergic reaction, the results are the same. This irritation causes excessive mucus production. The accumulation of mucus in the sinus cavities leads to painful congestion. It can cause headache, pain or pressure behind the eyes and a feeling of fullness in the head which can cause general fatigue. This can also lead to stomach pain, throat irritation and dizziness.
Usually the cause of these symptoms is due to allergens; however, it can often mimic viruses, such as those that cause colds and flu. Allergens cause inflammation and swelling of the lining of the nose, throat and airways. This results in the release of histamine, which causes allergy symptoms.
Allergic rhinitis or hay fever could be diagnosed. This is an elegant way of saying “allergic inflammation of the nose”, but it can lead to sinusitis, inflammation of the sinus cavities or a more serious problem if that mucus remains stagnant for too long. Over time, the mucus can begin to grow bacteria causing a sinus infection.
In the event of a viral infection, head and body pain, fatigue and sometimes fever often occur. With allergic rhinitis you will experience more itching in the eyes, nose and throat, as well as watery eyes due to the release of histamines. When allergy, facial pain and fever symptoms occur, it could be the signal of a sinus infection, especially if it is ongoing.
With a sinus infection, pressure is often felt around the eyes and sometimes even in the ears. You will usually have colored drainage when you cough or spit. This condition can be very uncomfortable and you should consult a doctor to prescribe an antibiotic to stop the bacterial infection.
Viral causes and basic allergic reactions will not be helped by antibiotics. Your main treatments are over the counter (OTC) medications to manage symptoms and comfort measures. It is important to use OTC products wisely. They will help relieve the symptoms of cold, flu or allergic inflammation.
When choosing which drug to take, it is necessary to determine the condition causing the symptoms.
So look for the predominant symptoms you want to relieve. Check the active ingredients in the product to determine what they will do for you. Consider the following:
• Pain relievers for pain, pain and fever
• Antihistamines to stop the allergic reaction of histamine (for allergic rhinitis)
• Nasal sprays (saline solution for hydration, decongestants to reduce swelling)
• Decongestants to get rid of excess mucus (be careful, these can make you feel nervous)
• Expectorants to loosen and cough mucus
• Cough suppressants to stop an annoying cough
• Throat pastilles or throat irritation spray
• Moisturizing eye drops for itchy eyes (take a break from using the contact during this period)
Some OTC products contain a single active ingredient, created to relieve a symptom. Many others contain a combination of active ingredients to treat several symptoms simultaneously. Selecting the right product can be difficult at times. They classify products based on the predominant symptoms they alleviate, so pay attention to the active ingredients and choose only what you need.
Consult your doctor for any symptoms not resolved by medication or comfort measures. As with most things, prevention is more effective than intervention. Staying healthy and keeping your immune system strong is the best defense against these symptoms. Practice:
• Balance nutrition and hydration
• Good hand washing.
• Daily exercise.
• Keeping the breasts moist, through steam treatments or breast washing.
• By properly covering coughs and sneezes along with proper tissue disposal.
• Get adequate sleep (usually 8 hours a day).
• Request adequate recovery times for exacerbations.
• The constant use of prophylactic drugs (for allergies)
• Monitoring of pollen and other common allergen counts. Stay when they are tall.
PLEASE NOTE: conditions that persist, recur, or are not supported by OTC medications should be checked by your doctor to rule out infection or another more serious condition. For example, a sore throat that lasts longer than three days or with a fever would be a signal to see the doctor. If in doubt, take a look!