How Can I Prevent Seasonal Allergies?

Question: How can I prevent seasonal allergies?

Answer: An important question that people have is, "How do I treat my problems?" And on the one hand, many people use simple medicines such as antihistamines and decongestants, but remember those medicines are just treating symptoms. So the real question to be posed is: Can I prevent my symptoms?

And indeed, we now have medicines such as nasal steroids, leukotriene antagonists, cromolyn-like drugs that can be used independently or sometimes together as what I call prophylactic, or preventive medicines. We can use these, starting them prior to the onset of the allergy season and may indeed be able to prevent the development of symptoms as you go through the spring, summer or fall pollen seasons.

Conversely, if you're already symptomatic, within a short period of time of three to seven days, these medicines may be able to suppress the disease process and bring you under control. But even in that context, we're using medicines that are -- if you will -- symptomatic treatment. The real question posed by this is, can we use an intervention that might disease-modify, as we use the term -- prevent the disease process in its entirety?

And that's where we've relied, traditionally, upon allergen immunotherapy, but it's a very cumbersome approach, where over a period of years you build up an immunity, a tolerance to the relevant allergens. And, of course, there's a lot of work in this area to see whether we can develop new approaches that may allow us to redirect the untoward immune response and shut it down much more efficiently, much more effectively with new allergen vaccines.

Next: I Know I Have Seasonal Allergies. Should I See A Doctor Or Can I Leave It Untreated?


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