Photo of woman sneezing in front of blooming tree

Have you ever felt like your allergies are an unruly beast despite your best efforts to control them? If you take your allergy medicine and follow directions to allergy-proof your life, you may still find yourself struggling with symptoms. What are you doing wrong?

The good news is that you’re not alone. With the COVID-19 pandemic pushing all of us indoors, bothersome symptoms from year-round indoor allergens are at an all-time high. Add to that the upcoming spring allergy season and you may be wondering where to turn next.

Here are four questions to ask yourself to get started on a better “allergy tomorrow.”

1. Am I taking the right medicine properly, and do I know when it is supposed to start working?

Common mistakes we all make:

  • Self-medicating with the wrong medication. Different types of allergy medications relieve various kinds of symptoms. You may be choosing the wrong ones. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist to match your symptoms with medication.
  • Pointing allergy nose sprays the wrong way. Do you stop using nasal allergy sprays because you get a nosebleed? This happens when you spray the medication in the wrong direction. It will help if you angle the spray towards the side of your nose, with the tip pointing at your ear.
  • Not knowing when the medication should start working. You may want to feel better right away. Different medications require different amounts of time to take Set the right expectations to help you gauge if the medicine is best for you.

2. Is my year-round indoor allergy acting like an anchor, weighing down my immune system?

  • Allergies have a cumulative effect and build on one another. You will experience worsening problems going into spring if you haven’t achieved control of your year-round indoor allergy. Just as an anchor weighs down a boat, a year-round allergy can weigh down your immune system, causing symptoms until adequately treated.

3. Should I talk to my healthcare provider about getting tested for allergies?

  • It is important to understand your allergy diagnosis. Knowledge is power and your healthcare provider is a great resource. Keep in mind that acquiring new allergies as you get older is not uncommon. Medicines that worked in the past may not work now because you have new undiagnosed allergies.

4. Is it time to treat the root cause of my allergies with immunotherapy?

  • Allergy Immunotherapy (AIT) is the only treatment option that changes the allergic disease course. It can decrease your reactivity and desensitize you to offending allergens, not just treat There are two FDA-approved choices for immunotherapy: allergy sublingual tablets and allergy shots.
    • Under-the-tongue, sublingual, quick-dissolving allergy tablets are the newest AIT choice for patients. You can take the allergy tablets at home after receiving the first dose in your doctor’s Allergy tablets are available for house dust mites, grass or ragweed pollen allergies. They work equally well in patients with multiple allergies. House dust mite tablets may work as early as eight weeks; grass and ragweed tablets work in the first season.
    • Allergy shots have been used for more than 100 years. They combine as many extracts as the doctor can prescribe into 1-4 injections. Initially, allergy shots are given once a week and then shift to bi-weekly or monthly. Allergy shots begin working once the maintenance dose is achieved in 6-12 months. 

The next step towards a better “allergy tomorrow” is in your hands. Here’s to a beautiful spring season!

This article was supported by a medical education grant from ALK.