If you suffer from seasonal allergies, you are not alone. More than 50 million Americans experience allergies every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Utah’s warm, dry climate provides the perfect condition for allergens to thrive.
Common allergens in Utah County include trees such as Arizona cypress, box elder, maple and several species of willow trees, weeds such as ragweed and sagebrush, and grasses such as Bermuda grass and Timothy.
“Seasonal allergic disease can affect multiple areas of the body, including the nose, eyes, sinuses, lungs, skin and even esophagus,” said Dr. Joshua Burkhardt, an allergy and immunology specialist at Revere Health. “For many people, symptoms can be severe enough to affect sleep, work productivity and school performance.”
Dr. Burkhardt also explained people with even mild seasonal allergies can have more anxiety, depression and trouble with social interactions. Treatments such as antihistamines, nasal rinses, subcutaneous immunotherapy and sublingual immunotherapy can greatly reduce the severity of the disease and make life more manageable.
Most people who experience seasonal allergies are familiar with antihistamines, which are medications that help reduce the severity of allergy symptoms. Claritin, Zyrtec and Benadryl, for example, are all antihistamines. However, over-the-counter allergy medications are typically best for treating mild to moderate symptoms.
Nasal rinses can also be successful in treating mild to moderate congestion caused by allergies, but if your symptoms are hard to control, or if you can’t avoid the allergen, immunotherapy or sublingual drops are an effective treatment option.
“Subcutaneous immunotherapy (allergy shots) and sublingual immunotherapy (allergy drops) are a non-steroid option for treating allergic disease,” said Dr. Burkhardt. “I recommend these to anyone who experiences any sort of life impairment from having seasonal allergies, cannot tolerate medications to treat their symptoms or who would rather use a natural approach to treatment.”
Subcutaneous immunotherapy is a highly personalized treatment in which an allergist injects you with pollens, molds, dust mites or animal dander to which you are allergic. Over time, this treatment can lead to a remission of allergy symptoms and even prevent you from developing new allergies.
Sublingual (meaning “under the tongue”) drops are similar to subcutaneous immunotherapy in that they help your immune system become desensitized to specific allergens, but they are not typically covered by insurance.
If you need help managing your allergy symptoms, know that help is available. Dr. Burkhardt recommends talking to an allergist about your triggers and symptoms to find a treatment method that best fits your needs.