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Ask the Medical Expert Archives 2000-2004

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Bad Allergies
May 2000

Q. I have bad allergies in the spring. I have tried claritin without much help. Should I see an allergist to consider allergy shots?

A. Seasonal allergies are very common and can be quite a nuisance. Tree pollen is often the offending agent. Typical symptoms include runny and itchy nose, sneezing and watery eyes. Anti histamines such as Claritin or Allegra are classic drugs to begin with. However, if they fail, I would suggest trying an inhaled steroid such as Flonase. This topical steroid is usually very effective and safe, because very little of it gets absorbed into your blood stream. The usual dose is 1 - 2 inhalations in each nostril once per day. This may be added to your claritin without adverse drug interactions.

Also, you should do other typical allergy prevention strategies such as vacuum and dust the house regularly, encase your mattress and pillow with plastic cover (to reduce dust mite exposure), and try to avoid pets especially cats. A high efficiency particulate air filter (HEPA) may also be helpful.

If you still have problems despite the above, then I would suggest you see an allergist for skin allergy testing and consideration of allergy shots. Allergy shots (Immunotherapy) can by very effective in treatment of allergies but does require regular follow up. Initially, about once per week injections are required, then they are gradually spread out to about once per month for several years.

For info: Asthma and Allergy foundation of America: 1-800-727-8462

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