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DrSugar Answers: Seasonal Allergies

DrSugar is in the house and answering your questions.

Dear DrSugar,
I have had a perpetually congested nose for about three or four years now. I didn't have allergies as a child, but I think they developed as I got older.

My symptoms include: frequent sinus headaches, worse in Fall and Spring, congested nose, which runs like crazy when I run, but also it becomes harder for me to breathe through. Am I right in thinking these are probably allergy symptoms? I have never been to a doctor about it – should I see a general physician or an allergist? Thanks!
Allergy Alice

To see what DrSugar has to say,


Every Spring and Summer allergies flare and people run to doctor’s offices and pharmacies looking for relief. Allergies can be tricky to diagnose and treat, because different people have different symptoms and not everyone responds to the standard treatments. The symptoms you describe, chronic sinus congestion and sinus headaches made worse when outdoors in the Spring and Fall, are entirely consistent with seasonal allergies. Other symptoms include itchy watery eyes, sneezing, and potentially worsening of asthma symptoms.

The first step in treating your allergies is determining what allergens are affecting you, so you can avoid them. If you only have symptoms every year during the Spring and Summer then pollen is most likely the culprit. If you have symptoms all year long then you could be allergic to dust mites or a pet. Allergy detection can be made simply by deduction, but can also be easily tested by an allergist with skin prick testing.

There are many potential treatment options for seasonal and chronic allergies. Since you can't really avoid the great out of doors, taking over the counter oral antihistamines Claritin and Zyrtec may help. Air purifiers can also help remove pollens and other impurities from the air in your home. Other treatments include nasal steroids such as Nasonex or Flonase, which can also be helpful for chronic sinus symptoms due to allergies. I would certainly start by seeing your primary care doctor, but keep in mind that allergists can be very helpful when it comes to difficult allergy problems.

If you have a question for DrSugar, send me a private message here and I will forward it to the good doctor.

DrSugar's posts are for informational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment recommendations. Click here for more details.

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