Dr. Eugene Hurwitz, from The Center For Allergy and Asthma of Georgia, answers questions about allergy symptoms and treatments.
What key symptoms indicate an allergy?
Allergies can affect the body in many ways, but a key symptom is itching. For those with respiratory allergies, they may have watery, itchy eyes and nose, as well as congestion, coughing, wheezing and shortness of breath. Allergies can cause eczema and hives as well.
Why is Atlanta a hotbed for allergy sufferers?
Atlanta’s climate is ideal for plants that trigger allergies, including trees in the spring, weeds in the fall and grasses in the summer. In addition, dust mites thrive in humidity, as does mold. Atlanta and the Southeast are always among the leading allergy areas in the country.
How have treatments evolved in the last five years?
Allergy shots are highly effective for treating allergies. More recently, allergy drops have become available, which can be given at home and are more convenient. There will soon be allergy tablets available for grass allergies; however, most people in Atlanta have multiple allergic triggers, and the tablets may not control their allergies.
What preventative steps can you take?
Avoidance of indoor allergies may include dust mite control measures, washing bedding in hot water, using dust mite-proof covers for the pillows and mattress and minimizing dust-collecting items in the bedroom. Controlling mold and keeping animals out of the bedroom (or the house) may be helpful. It is difficult to avoid exposure to outdoor allergens.
What foods or vitamins can you add to your diet to strengthen your sinuses?
A good diet may be helpful. There is recent evidence that people with vitamin D deficiency may have more problems with allergies.
How do you choose a qualified doctor? What credentials should they have?
If you are undertaking a treatment plan for allergies, it is important to see a board-certified allergist. They are the only specialists who are trained specifically in allergy care.
How can symptoms be managed?
Allergy shots administered by board-certified allergists can reduce symptoms by 80 to 90 percent and give patients long-term relief.
- Eugene S. Hurwitz, MD, FAAAAI