As spring approaches, Raleigh residents are bracing for the inevitable: an explosion of pollen that paints the town yellow from top to bottom each year. As the “land of the pines,” North Carolina is one of the worst states for those with seasonal allergies, and the City of Oaks makes frequent appearances on “Worst U.S. Cities for Allergies” lists.
If you’re a seasonal allergy sufferer who is already bracing for the invasion, here are some allergy prevention tips from a Raleigh ophthalmologist.
If you’re dreading spring, you’re in good company: between one-fourth and one-third of Americans have seasonal eye allergies. Pollen, the micro-gametophytes of seed plants, is a harmless substance to most people, but the human immune system can also register it as a threat. In an effort to banish the invaders, our bodies respond with all the reactions that make us so uncomfortable (drippy noses, itchy eyes, etc.).
Over-the-counter antihistamines tend to be very effective. You can also purchase eye drops that contain antihistamines, decongestants, and/or mast cell stabilizers as well. If you have tried these options and are still not experiencing any relief, an ophthalmologist may prescribe low doses of topical steroids for a short period of time. Steroid use needs to be carefully monitored, since prolonged use can cause glaucoma and cataracts.
Allergy shots are a bit like vaccines; they contain just enough of the allergens to stimulate your immune system, but not enough to cause a full-blown allergic reaction. Over time, the dose of allergens is increased with each shot, until your immune system builds up a tolerance and stops responding with symptoms. Note that this type of solution takes three to six months to start working, so to combat this spring’s pollen, you will have to rely on the above treatments as well.
If you are opposed to the use of pharmaceutical medicines, unable to take them due to conflicting drugs/conditions, or simply want to do as much as possible to help your allergies, there are several natural treatments that can help. Eating foods that contain quercetin, such as citrus fruits, onions, garlic, berries, parsley, and broccoli, can help stabilize the mast cells and reduce the allergy symptoms. If you are having trouble breathing, placing a few drops of eucalyptus oil in a diffuser can help ease your congestion. Finally, practice avoidance: wear wraparound sunglasses and a wide-brimmed hat whenever you’re outside, and quickly change clothes and shower off when you come inside for the day.
If your eyes are suffering from allergies or any other issue, call the professionals at Raleigh Eye Center. Our professional Raleigh ophthalmologists, optometrists, and opticians have provided exceptional eye care to Raleigh and its surrounding areas since 1922. To set up an appointment, just give us a call.