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Did you know that allergies are the sixth leading cause of chronic illness in the United States? According to the Center for Disease Control, over 50 million Americans experience allergies on a yearly basis. While it is fairly common knowledge that lack of sleep, poor diet and dehydration contribute to chronic pain, you may not realize that allergies can play a role, as well.
Seasonal allergic sensitivities to pollen from trees, grasses and weeds, or to airborne mold spores cause sneezing, stuffy nose, runny nose, watery eyes and itching of the nose, eyes and throat. These allergies can also intensify chronic pain.
How seasonal allergies contribute to pain
You may have noticed that when seasonal allergies hit, your chronic pain worsens. When seasonal allergies occur, your respiratory and immune systems become stressed. Your immune system begins to work in overdrive to combat environmental triggers. The body releases histamine as an immune reaction to environmental irritants. This leads to inflammation in joints and more intense chronic pain symptoms such as headaches, neck and back pain, fatigue and lack of mental clarity.
Tips on ways the manage this issue
Some of the most popular seasonal allergens are ragweed and pollen. While it may not be feasible to avoid environmental triggers entirely, there are several adjustments you can make to decrease your symptoms.
Staying inside all spring and summer isn’t necessary, but it is wise to monitor pollen and mold levels so you can make informed choices on when (and how long) you venture outside for. When pollen counts are up, it is best to remain inside, with windows closed to regulate your exposure to the elements. When it comes to seasonal allergies, an excellent time to enjoy the outdoors is following rain. If you do go outside, always be sure to shower immediately after, so you aren’t transferring pollen onto furniture or bedding.
Prepare your home
There’s probably no such thing as a completely allergen-free home. However, there’s plenty of things you can do within your home to diminish allergic triggers. Rely on your air conditioner to cool your house, instead of ceiling or box fans. Fans tend to kick up dust and pollen, then redistribute it throughout the home. There’s even specialty HVAC filters you can purchase that are designed specifically for allergy sufferers. These filters stimulate better indoor air quality by filtering air particles more efficiently than standard filters. Air purifying systems and humidifiers can also help alleviate severe allergy symptoms. Lastly, it’s advisable to clean your home frequently and wash bedding weekly, in an effort to decrease pollen and dust particles from settling.
Seek treatment options
Over-the-counter antihistamine and decongestant medication may work for some individuals. More intense allergies may require an in-office allergy shot to help control the immune response. If you are experiencing watery eyes, itchy throat, coughing or fatigue, yet are unaware of what is causing it, allergy testing can be administered. Testing pinpoints which allergens are causing your allergic response. Upon diagnosis, your doctor may provide additional treatment options, such as immunotherapy, which builds your tolerance to the allergen.
If allergy symptoms are contributing to your chronic pain, you may want to discuss treatment options with a doctor at either our Newnan or LaGrange locations. At Georgia Spine and Pain, we work to create a customized plan that addresses minimizing allergies and alleviating chronic pain. Contact us today to learn more, or to schedule an appointment.