Prevention & Recovery

Are seasonal allergies taking over your emotions?

By: Kathryn Dorrell

Author: Canadian Living

Prevention & Recovery

Are seasonal allergies taking over your emotions?

By: Kathryn Dorrell
Itchy and watery eyes, sneezing, wheezing and a runny or stuffed up nose aren't the only symptoms that plague people with seasonal allergies. The latest research shows that allergies caused by pollen, weeds, grass and trees deal a double whammy to our well-being because they have a big impact on our emotional health, too.

Here's how seasonal allergies could be taking over your emotions, and what allergy experts recommend for relief.

Allergies: not just a physical ailment
A study by Harris Decima reveals that almost 80 per cent of Canadians with seasonal allergies say their mood is negatively affected by their allergies. Out of these people:
• 63 per cent say they're more irritable
• 45 per cent are more annoyed
• 41 per cent are more frustrated
• 23 per cent are more self-conscious
• 19 per cent feel less attractive.

Seasonal allergy sufferers are also more likely to experience sadness and mental fatigue than the lucky ones who don't have allergies.

"It's common for sleep to be disturbed by seasonal allergies, and a lack of sleep has a significant impact on our moods and energy level," explains Dr. Susan Wasserman, an immunologist, allergy expert and professor in the department of medicine with McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario.

Being a couch potato won't help either - and Wasserman says, "I often hear people with seasonal allergies say that they don't exercise as much when their allergies are bothering them. They don't have the desire or energy."

Emotional rescue
The good news is that you deserve to - and can - feel better, Dr. Wasserman says. And you don't have to hide inside all season to get some relief.

Research shows most of us only take an allergy medication, such as an antihistamine, when we have seasonal allergy symptoms - and we stop taking it once they go away. But the key to gaining back control of your emotions during allergy season – not to mention getting rid of all those other miserable symptoms - is prevention.

Take an over-the-counter treatment before your symptoms start - say, at the beginning of pollen season - and keep taking it for the duration of the season, suggest Dr. Wasserman and Philip Emberley, director of pharmacy innovation with the Canadian Pharmacists Association.

Don't fret if you're already sneezing or wiping your eyes, though. It may take a bit longer for an overt-the-counter medication to kick in, but if you stay on it, Emberley says it should block those seasonal allergens (grass, weeds and pollen) the next time you come in contact with them.

Page 1 of 2 – Learn what treatment is right for your allergies on page 2.

Choosing a treatment
There are a variety of over-the-counter remedies you can try, from nasal sprays and decongestants to eye drops and antihistamines. Talk to your pharmacist about your symptoms and ask for her opinion on which types of treatments you need. You don't need a decongestant or nasal spray, for instance, if you have itchy watery eyes.

"Non-drowsy antihistamines are very effective," Emberley says. "But one that works for one person may not for another, so try different products until you find the one that is best for you. Don't give up, keep trying. "

If you're not getting enough relief from over-the-counter medications, book an appointment with your family doctor to talk about prescription medications and allergy shots. "There are some great prescription eye drops for seasonal allergies and prescription steroid nasal sprays are being used as commonly as antihistamines," Emberley says.

Find more information on dealing with food allergies here.

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Prevention & Recovery

Are seasonal allergies taking over your emotions?