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Allergy can be described as a malfunction of the immune system, an exaggerated response to certain substances. Allergies come in all different shapes and sizes, some as benign, but bothersome as the sneezing, wheezing, coughing and watery eyes brought on by pollens, and some whoppers that can actually bring on anaphylaxis and anaphylactic shock and death such a bee stings.
Allergic symptoms can be brought on by many different things. Some environmental allergens are seasonal pollen such as ragweed, mold, dust, dander from household pets. Others can be brought on by foods, such as nuts or shellfish, and some by medications (prescription or over-the-counter).
If you have a family history of allergy you will have a greater risk of acquiring one yourself. The first and foremost way to avoid an allergy is of course to avoid the cause of the allergy. Sometimes avoidance isn’t enough and medications are needed.
If you are interested in treating the symptoms of an occasional allergy (such as seasonal pollen) an over-the-counter antihistamine and an over-the-counter nasal spray are generally the combination suggested by most doctors. These will give you temporary relief for 12-24 hours, depending on the ones you choose. Please check for side-effects carefully. These drugs stimulate the nervous system and can cause insomnia, palpitations, nervousness and irritability. If you have a condition such as high blood pressure check with your doctor before taking any over-the-counter medication.
For some who don’t obtain relief from other medications, or who have more numerous or serious allergies, allergy shots are recommended. After a consultation and a skin patch test a vaccine is custom made for the patient. The allergy vaccine will actually contain a small amount of the allergens that tested positive. These shots are given frequently at the start of treatment, generally 1-2 times a week for 6 months, then once a month. Maintenance shots are given for 3-5 years then stopped altogether. Your doctor will decide your schedule. Not everyone is a candidate for allergy shots. Your doctor will review your medical history with you to see if you can safely receive them.
Some seek a gentler and more natural way to allergy relief with the use of vitamins, supplements and herbs. Believers see this natural path to allergy treatment as actually strengthening the body. Vitamins C, B5 A, B12, E and Omega 3 can be taken to help reduce allergy symptoms. Honey can be used to prevent hay fever. Some say washabi taken every day prevents hay fever. Please remember that herbs can have interactions with over-the-counter medications and prescription medications and check with your doctor before starting any course of therapy for your allergy.