When Allergies Become Too Much

A girl sneezes in a field
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Here in Texas, many of us suffer from seasonal allergies to a variety of grasses, weeds, trees, and other plants as well as a host of other triggers. Texas is one of the worst states for allergies, so if you’ve moved to Texas from other parts of the country, you may find yourself developing allergies even if you’ve never had them before. Some have said, “If it doesn’t grow here, it blows here!” Many doctors believe that allergens are so prevalent because we rarely experience a harsh winter with freezing temperatures. The Texas climate allows trees to pollinate year-round. Indoor allergens such as dust, pet dander, and mold, can also cause allergy symptoms.

What causes allergies?

Allergy symptoms can be annoying at the very least, and at times downright miserable. While in most cases you cannot get rid of allergies altogether (apart from moving or other extreme measures), there are several over-the-counter medications that are available to reduce the severity of your symptoms. Consider purchasing an antihistamine at your local pharmacy which blocks the release of histamine that causes inflammation and many common symptoms. You can find an antihistamine in the form of a pill or nasal spray. A saline nasal irrigation will clean out your sinuses and does not have addictive qualities like a nasal decongestant. These over-the-counter meds can frequently provide a great deal of relief.

Should I consider steroid shots?

Allergy symptoms are the result of your body trying to help you deal with the substance that it reacts to so strongly. The itchy eyes, sneezing, and other common symptoms are signs your body is trying to get rid of whatever is triggering the response. “A steroid shot is an aggressive remedy used to calm that response,” explains Purvi Parikh, MD, allergy and immunology clinical assistant professor at NYU Langone Health. She goes on to warn that even though they’re very effective, they should only be given “when all else fails.” Steroid shots affect other areas of the body – not just your nose – and may cause significant side effects.

Short-term side effects include increased appetite, insomnia, changes in mood or behavior, flushed face, and short-term weight gain. Any or all of these may occur almost immediately after receiving the shot.

Steroid shots may also cause more serious, long-term side effects including glaucoma, diabetes, cataracts, high blood pressure, heart disease, and bone deterioration among others. Steroid shots are given by an allergist and injected directly into a muscle, such as an arm. The shot usually takes about 6 hours to have an effect.

Another option which is “less intense” is the use of steroid-free immunotherapy shots. Many healthcare providers consider this to be a better option because you’re helping your body to become less reactive to whatever is triggering the allergic response. Steroid shots just treat the symptoms. The downside is that immunotherapy shots can take a year or more to really bring relief.

Nasal cortico-steroids can also be a good option. Even though they do contain steroid, they are very safe because the steroid is limited to your nasal passages and very little enters the rest of your body.

What’s the bottom line?

You can’t get rid of allergies. According to a 2017 CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) Survey, 19.9 million adults over age 18 had been diagnosed with “hay fever” in the past 12 months.  All you can really do is try to make them less severe and/or help your body to gradually become less reactive to them. Healthcare providers recommend beginning to use nasal antihistamine and allergy relief medicines a couple of weeks before the worst of the season starts.  If you and your doctor decide steroid shots are the best option, limit them to one or two shots per year.

All Integrity Urgent Care locations offer injections to treat symptoms and provide relief from allergies. We can help you decide if something more than over-the-counter medications is necessary. Contact us today to schedule an appointment. Walk-ins are also welcome. We’re here daily from 8 am to 8 pm to serve you and your family. You don’t have to endure allergies in misery!

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Allergies and hay fever. National Center for Health Statistics [Fast Stats online]. [accessed 20 Aug 2019]. https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/allergies.htm
Integrity Urgent Care. First Aid Handbook – Allergies [blog post]. Integrityuc.com. 11 Apr 2018 [accessed 20 Aug 2019]. https://dev.integrityuc.com/Blog/ArticleID/49
More D. Should you get steroid shots for allergies? Verywellhealth.com [online]. Updated 4 Jul 2019 [accessed 20 Aug 2019]. https://www.verywellhealth.com/are-3-month-allergy-shots-safe-82792
Siclait A. Should you get a steroid shot for your allergies? Womenshealthmag.com [online]. 22 Jan 2019 [accessed 20 Aug 2019]. https://www.womenshealthmag.com/health/a25630359/steroid-shot-for-allergies/

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