Most respiratory allergies are just major annoyances that can make you feel lousy. However, sometimes they can lead to bacterial infections in your sinuses, ears, or lungs, which may require antibiotics. In people with asthma, allergies can lead to serious symptoms. Allergies can also aggravate asthma symptoms.
Respiratory allergies are caused by an overreaction of the immune system to a trigger that causes inflammation and/or swelling of tissues in the nose, eyes, ears, sinuses, throat, larynx ("voice box"), and airways. Common triggers are pollens, dust, cigarette smoke, air pollutants, and animal dander.
Signs and Symptoms
Runny, itchy nose
Itchy, swollen, burning, and/or watery eyes
A dry cough or one that produces minimal phlegm
Ear congestion or popping
Sinus pressure or stuffiness
Mucous drainage from the back of the nose down the back of the throat (post-nasal drainage)
Itching of the soft tissue at the upper, back part of your mouth
How to Manage Allergies
Reduce exposure to triggers.
Keep your home, especially your bedroom, as dust-free as possible.
Bathe pets frequently; keep them off your bed and upholstered furniture.
Close windows in your home and car.
Limit time outdoors when pollen, molds, or other triggers are high.
An air purifyer may help, but they receive mixed reviews.
Shower and wash your hair at the end of the day.
Try a saline nasal rinse or neti pot.
Wear clean clothes each day.
For sneezing, runny nose, post-nasal drainage, and itchy, watery eyes, take an over-the-counter (OTC) antihistamine.
For inflamed, irritated eyes, use OTC allergy eye drops. If drops contain a decongestant as noted on the packaging, don't use them more than four days in a row.
Over the Counter Medications for Seasonal Allergies
Brand names listed as examples do not imply better quality over other brands. Generic equivalents may also exist.
Use only as directed on the package, unless your healthcare provider instructs you to do otherwise.
OTCs may interact with other medications or be potentially harmful if you have certain medical conditions. Talk to your pharmacist about options that are right for you.