Although spring may be the time we typically consider “allergy season,” fall in our area offers plenty of allergens too. We want you to feel better no matter the time of year.
Brad W. LeBert, MD, an ear, nose and throat specialist with Our Lady of the Lake Physician Group, offers tips to alleviate your allergy symptoms and how to know when it’s time to seek additional professional help.
Allergy Symptoms to Watch For
In the late fall in our area, we have a lot of weed bloom like ragweed and goldenrod. And of course, we live in such a humid environment that mold can be a year-round allergen.
It’s not uncommon for people to experience increased nasal congestion and pressure, runny nose, postnasal drip, itchy ears, or feeling tired and groggy. These symptoms likely point to an allergy. Before you call your provider, there are some at-home things to try first.
Over-the-counter Treatment Options
Use nasal saline to rinse out the inside of your nasal cavity, especially when you come in from the outside when allergens may have been stirred up from activities like mowing the grass. Removing debris with a rinse can reduce your symptoms.
Another thing to try is a nasal steroid such as Flonase, and it’s important to use it consistently—daily for at least two weeks to see improvement or changes in the major allergy symptoms.
When using a nasal spray of any type, Dr. LeBert advises his patients to angle the bottle so the spray coats the inside lateral wall of your nose.
You can get nasal dryness or irritation if you don’t apply the spray like this: use your right hand to spray your left nostril, angling the bottle outward to direct the spray toward the outer corner of your left eye. Then switch hands and angle for the other nostril. Two squirts followed by a small sniff in each side should do the trick.
Oral antihistamines such as Claritin or Zyrtec are also recommended for most people, although Dr. LeBert advises people older than 70 or who have prostate-related issues avoid them.
When to Seek More Help
Consider professional help with allergies if your symptoms have been persistent for more than two weeks or if you have any signs of a sinus infection such as fever, facial swelling or tenderness, tooth pain or mucus that smells bad or is discolored.
While your primary care physician can treat that type of infection, it may be time to see an ENT like Dr. LeBert if you have more than two rounds of antibiotics or if your allergy symptoms do not resolve with basic treatment methods even without an infection.
Could it Be COVID-19?
The symptoms of COVID-19 can be mistaken for allergies. When in doubt, get tested. Check out our infographic comparing symptoms of COVID, colds, flu and allergies.