An allergist/immunologist's tips for treating allergies

April 17, 2014 at midnight
Updated April 16, 2014 at 11:17 p.m.

February, March, April and May are the worst months for tree pollen, said Dr. Gullapalli Rao with the Victoria Allergy and Asthma Clinic. Grass pollen and mold follow during summer.

Allergies are the fifth most prevalent chronic disease in the United States, and genetics play a role, Rao said.

A child with one parent who has allergies has a 30 to 40 percent chance of developing them, Rao said. Two parents with allergies increase the child's chance of developing allergies to between 60 and 70 percent.

• Rao recommends over-the-counter, non-sedating antihistamines such as Zyrtec, Allegra or Claritin for people who have mild allergy symptoms during only one season.

• However, Rao suggests people who have multi-seasonal allergies consult with an allergy and asthma specialist because they can prescribe corticosteroid inhalants such as Nasonex, Nasacort and Fluticasone to control inflammation, which antihistamines do not help.

• Prescription eye drops are also helpful for watery, itchy eyes, he said.

Sinusitis and ear infections are common complications associated with allergic rhinitis, for which allergy and asthma specialists can prescribe antibiotics.• Allergen immunotherapy is a long-term solution. The allergy shots, which are given once a week for five years, have a 70 percent success rate, Rao said.

• "Patients require fewer medications, their symptoms become minimal, and they feel much better," Rao said.

• Thirty to 40 percent of people with allergic rhinitis also have asthma, which must be treated, Rao said.

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