This post was authored by Dr. Myron Zitt, an allergist and immunologist in East Meadow, NY who diagnoses and treats a wide variety of conditions including asthma and allergic rhinitis.
When most people think about allergy symptoms, sneezing and congestion typically come to mind. But there are many other ways that you can tell somebody might be suffering from allergies – and many ways allergy sufferers can manage their symptoms. With this in mind, I’ve shared below some lesser-known signs you might be suffering from allergies and tips for allergy symptom management. I also recommend that if people have questions about their allergy symptoms they consult an allergist or other healthcare provider to identify individual allergens and develop a plan to manage triggers.
Signs You Might be Suffering from Allergies
- You Can’t Concentrate
You wake up with a stuffy runny nose and can’t stop sneezing but still head into work and struggle through the day. This situation often leads to a present but unproductive employee – something known as “presenteeism” – and unfortunately, it’s very common for allergy sufferers.
- Your Nose Is Extra Sensitive
Allergy sufferers may experience a heightened response to non-allergic conditions, such as wind, air pollution, and dry weather. This occurs when the nasal passages and throat are inflamed from existing allergies, making them more sensitive.
- You Always Feel Tired
Allergy symptoms can disrupt sleep, especially for people whose symptoms make it difficult to breathe through the nose. Even a full night’s rest may not ease that feeling of tiredness for some allergy sufferers.
- You’re More Grumpy Than Usual
The discomfort of allergy symptoms can interfere with people’s daily lives and lead to irritability. Have you been uncharacteristically moody? If so, allergies might be to blame.
Allergy Management Tips
- Know Your Triggers
Do you know what gives you that congestion, itchy nose, and/or urge to sneeze? Document your symptoms throughout to get a better sense of your individual allergies – and visit your health care provider, preferably an allergist, to get a proper diagnosis. They may provide recommendations to help minimize your contact with allergens and to treat your symptoms with a regimen that may include an over-the-counter antihistamine, intranasal corticosteroid spray, and/or immunotherapy (allergy shots).
- Avoid Allergens
Try to avoid going outside in the morning, as the most significant pollination begins at dawn and extends through mid-day. Outdoor activities should be planned for later in the day if possible. Otherwise, if you can’t imagine staying indoors– plan ahead! Wear a hat and sunglasses to keep the pollen away from your face.
- Kick Pollen to the Curb
Similar to mud and dirt, pollen can stick to your clothing and shoes, so you end up tracking it into your home. Invest in a good doormat and wipe down your shoes each time you enter. It’s also helpful to shower and change into fresh clothes to completely rid yourself of outdoor pollen.
- Beware of Bouquets
If you’re bringing flowers or plants into your home, choose them carefully. For example, sunflowers and chrysanthemums might offer a sweet floral aroma, but they are also known to bother people with ragweed allergies.
- Don’t Carpool with Pollen
When you’re driving, keep the windows rolled up and the air conditioning on. If you don’t have an air conditioner, you can also set your ventilation to “re-circulate” instead of opening the windows to avoid outdoor allergens and irritants.
Disclosure: Dr. Zitt is an Allegra spokesperson who has been compensated for his time.