Flu Shot FAQs

What are the benefits of the flu vaccination?

Receiving the flu vaccines reduces flu illnesses, sick appointments or hospital stays, and missed time from work or school. It can also be life-saving for high risk patients like children or seniors.

Can the flu vaccine give me the flu?

The viruses in the flu shot are killed (inactivated), so you cannot get the flu from a flu shot. However, you may experience some minor side effects like, soreness, redness or swelling at the shot site, a low grade fever, and some aches.

For those that receive the nasal spray, the viruses are weakened and do not cause severe symptoms often associated with influenza illness. Side effects from the nasal spray may include, runny nose, sore throat, cough, wheezing, headache, vomiting, muscle aches, or fever.

Who should get vaccinated this season?

Everyone six months of age and older should receive a flu vaccine at the beginning of the flu season, typically every fall.

Who should not be vaccinated against seasonal flu?

A patients age, health or allergies may determine they should not receive the flu vaccine. Talk with your physician to ensure you or your children should receive the flu vaccine.

Why should I get my child vaccinated?

The flu is dangerous for all people, but children under five years old are at an especially high risk when they get sick with the seasonal flu. The flu vaccine is your and your children’s best defense against contracted and spreading the flu.

When should I get a flu vaccine?

For people receiving one dose of the flu vaccine, the Centers for Disease Control recommends that people get the flu vaccine by the end of October. If your child requires two doses, they will need to be given four weeks apart, so chat with your pediatrician on the best time to give the first dose. Getting the vaccine in the summer months may result is reduced protection later in the flu season, especially for high risk patients.  There are benefits to receiving the flu vaccine later in the season, so it’s never too late to be vaccinated!

How effective is the flu vaccine?

The patient’s age and health status will determine the effectiveness of the flu vaccine, as well as how well the flu in the vaccine matches the flu circulating in your community. The CDC estimates that the flu vaccine reduces the risk of flu illness by between 40% and 60% among the overall population, when the seasonal flu circulating is well-matched with the flu vaccine. 

Besides vaccination, how can people protect themselves against the flu?

Getting the flu vaccine every year is your best defense against the flu. People should also take preventive actions every day. These include, frequently washing hands, covering coughs using the inside of your elbow, not your hand, and avoid having contact with people who are sick (even if they haven’t been diagnosed with the flu).

Where can I get the flu vaccine?

This year’s flu shot is available at IHA Primary Care practices and pediatric doses are available at IHA Pediatric practices. Adults and children may receive the flu shot at any IHA Urgent Care location. Click below to schedule your flu shot.

Schedule Your Flu Shot

6 Tips to Prevent Mosquito Bites & Viruses

Don’t let the cooler weather fool you, mosquito season is not over. More than a pest, these buzzing insects can carry and spread dangerous diseases to both humans and animals. Here in Michigan, health officials are advising residents to take precautions after several residents became infected with the mosquito-borne virus, Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE). The only way to prevent mosquito-borne illnesses is to avoid being bitten by them.

Until the nighttime temperatures consistently fall below freezing, The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services has issued the following recommendations to protect yourself and your family against mosquito bites:

  1. Avoid being outdoors at dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active
  2. Wear light-colored, long-sleeved shirts and long pants when outdoors
  3. Apply insect repellents that contain the active ingredient DEET or other EPA- approved product to exposed skin or clothing, always following the manufacturer’s directions for use
  4. Use nets and/or fans over outdoor eating areas
  5. Maintain window and door screening to help keep mosquitoes out of buildings
  6. Empty water from mosquito breeding sites such as buckets, unused kiddie pools, old tires or similar sites where mosquitoes lay eggs
    For those that work outdoors or cannot avoid being outdoors at dusk or dawn, be diligent about using insect repellent, and cover as much of your skin as possible.

If you’re concerned about or experiencing symptoms from a mosquito bite, reach out to your primary care physician: Make An Appointment

Or visit an Urgent Care location near you: Save Your Spot

Read the press release from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services: Michigan.gov/emergingdiseases

Frequently Asked Questions about Eastern Equine Encephalitis from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): https://www.cdc.gov/easternequineencephalitis/gen/qa.html

Work + Life: The Juggle is Real

Finding a balance between work and life is one thing. Throw school in there, sports team practice, a science fair project, a growth spurt that requires new shoes that are only available at the store across town, and you have a perfect recipe for physical and mental burnout. Burnout can leave you feeling exhausted, drained, or even physically ill. You can’t always eliminate the stress from a busy schedule or workday, but you can learn to manage it.

Start by asking yourself: What needs to be done? Look at your task list and separate what truly must be done from less critical tasks. Things like work tasks, school events and appointments are not negotiable, while others may be. Sort through your to-do list and eliminate low-priority tasks where you can.

Create a shared family calendar. Whether you like a paper calendar stuck to the fridge, or you’re a digital family, there are templates and tools for everyone. Get upcoming events listed in one place, so everyone knows where they are supposed to be.


Wherever you are, be there. “Be present” is a trendy phrase that we hear a lot these days. But, it’s hard not to look at the 5 notifications that just popped up on your phone. When possible, set your device aside and focus your attention on what is happening around you. Maybe it’s dedicated time to play with your child or have a conversation with your spouse or a good friend. Making a conscious effort to focus on one task or person at a time will help clear the clouds of stress.


Make time for your family.
So many evenings are spent rushing to practices, classes or events, and dinners are consumed during the car ride. Try to find time each week to eat together as a family. Institute a family game night, a bike ride, or maybe a family meeting. Find ways that your family can be together enjoying each other without interruption or distraction (see point above). Ultimately those closest to you will be your front lines of support, so a weekly check-in will help catch when anyone is starting to succumb to stress.


Make time for yourself. The best way to work time for yourself into your schedule? Schedule it! Be creative (Paint! Garden! Journal!), eat a healthy diet avoiding sugar, caffeine, and carbs, have dinner with friends. Think about what truly brings joy into your life and make time for it.
Feel the burn! (Not the burnout). Exercise is one of the best ways to eliminate stress. That doesn’t mean you have to make it to a 5 AM barre class. A 10-minute walk can boost your mood and outlook for 2 hours! Find ways to work exercise into your daily routine, even if it means stretching on the sidelines at soccer practice.


Know when it’s time to ask for help. Burnout can happen at home or at work. Learn to recognize when stress is taking over, and you need help. Then ask for it. Burnout isn’t one size fits all. It can look and feel different for everyone. You may start to feel exhausted, moody or withdrawn. You may not remember what you had for lunch or where you are going when you leave the house. You may start to notice muscle pain from clenching or grinding your teeth.
If you are feeling the symptoms of burnout, seek support from those around you before you reach your breaking point. We’re here to help, too. Reach out to your primary care provider, they will help you extinguish burnout and feel like yourself again.

It’s easy to schedule an appointment with your primary care provider – simply visit our online appointment tool, scroll to find your provider, and click to schedule an appointment at a time that works for you!

Make An Appointment

Sun Safety: Protection is key for fun in the sun

Fifteen minutes. According to the Center for Disease Control, that’s all it takes for the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays to damage your skin. When you’re on beach or pool time, 15 minutes goes by quickly. It feels great to soak up those rays, but they are harming your skin and are putting you at risk for long-term skin damage and worse, skin cancer. Before you head out into the sun for the day, take some time and precautions to keep yourself and your family safe all summer long, and you’ll be golden for some fun in the sun!

Use Sunscreen

It’s one of the easiest ways to prevent skin cancer. Look for a sunscreen with broad spectrum protection against both UVA and UVB, an SPF of at least 30, and water resistant. When applying sunscreen, more is more. You want to be sure to get a thick layer of sunscreen on your skin in order for the SPF to do its job. For an average size person, remember the teaspoon rule, and adjust for all ages and body types:1 teaspoon to the face/neck/scalp1 teaspoon for each arm1 teaspoon to the chest and abdomen1 teaspoon to the back2 teaspoons for each leg

Sunblock lotions are the preferred choice, but if you are using a spray sunscreen, apply outside by holding the bottle close to the skin and spray on each area for approximately 6 seconds, or until the sunscreen is visible on the skin (typically, when it looks white). Then, rub it in. Don’t apply spray sunscreen directly to the face. Instead, spray generously into your hand and apply to your face as you would a lotion. Don’t forget to apply a lip balm with an SPF of 30, too!

Sunscreen will wear off throughout the day. Be sure to reapply every two hours and following exposure to water or sweat.

If you’re avoiding sunscreen because you don’t like how it feels on your skin or you had an allergic reaction, try another type or brand. There are a variety of choices by a variety of brands, so if you aren’t happy with one, try another until you find one that works with your skin. You may want to make an appointment with your primary care provider or dermatologist to discuss your individual needs. After all, the best sunscreen is the one you will wear!

Avoid exposure between 10 am and 4 pm

Have you heard of the shadow rule? If your shadow is shorten than you are in real life, the sun’s rays are strong. During this time, you should avoid exposure or follow precautions to protect yourself and your family. For our region in the Midwest, the sun is most intense from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., so you’ll want to be the most vigilante in protecting your skin during this time.

Use Sunglasses

Your eyes will absorb those harmful rays much like your skin does. Look for sunglasses that block and absorb UVA and UVB light. The lenses should fit close to the skin and be large enough to cover your eyes and the surrounding areas. The bigger the better! Polarized lenses will help eliminate glare, which is great for driving or days in the water or snow.

Drink more water

When you’re sweating, you are losing water. Drink plenty of water throughout the day, especially in hot weather to keep dehydration at bay. Don’t wait until you feel thirsty. Also, look for signs of heat exhaustion such as; feeling overheated, tired or weak. Nausea, headaches and dizziness are also indications that it’s time to get out of the sun, cool down and drink some water. Heat stroke is a more serious condition. If you or someone in your family stops sweating, has red and/or hot skin, a high temperature, confusion or is suddenly uncoordinated, seek medical attention right away.

Go Long!: Wear Protective Clothing

Long-sleeved shirts and long pants provide an extra layer of protection while spending time out in the sun. Look for clothing made with tightly woven fabrics. Those linen pants aren’t going to protect you from the sun, so be sure to wear sunscreen underneath. When playing the water, look for bathing suits that feature a sun shirt, especially for little ones.

Hats Off ON!: Wear a Broad Rimmed hat

Wearing a hat with a full brim is a great way to protect the scalp, ears, face and neck from exposure to the sun’s UV rays. Tightly woven fabric is the key to a good hat, straw hats are cute, but don’t provide the protection you need. When purchasing sun hats for the family, be sure to pick the correct sizes for each person. Kids will pull off a hat that slips down over their eyes.Seek the shade & avoid direct sunlight

Trees or shelters block the sun’s UV rays and provide ultimate protection. Seek out these spaces when spending time outdoors to help protect yourself and your family from painful sunburns and help reduce the risk of skin cancer. When you can’t find shade, make it! Invest in a beach umbrella or tent to shield your family from the sunlight.

Be cautious of reflections

Your exposure to the sun’s rays increases when the sun shines onto and reflects off of bright surfaces, like water, sand or house paint, for example. When spending time near a reflective surface, ensure everyone is sporting sunglasses and sunscreen or protective clothing are being used consistently.

Tanning

Don’t. Tan skin is damaged skin and the impact can last or even shorten a lifetime. Tanning should not be part of a beauty regiment at any point in a person’s life.

Protection 365 Days

Skin cancer prevention is not seasonal. Sure, we wear less clothing and spend more time outside in the sun’s rays during the summer months, but protection from those rays is just as important during the winter months. UV rays reflect off snow just as they do off of sand, water and concrete. Apply sunscreen to the face and any other exposed skin, wear sunglasses and lip balm every day. When it comes to sun safety, there’s a lot of information to soak in. Download this handy checklist and keep it in your beach bag to help ensure you and your family are covered for summer skin protection.

Sun Safety Checklist

For questions concerning dangers to your skin from the sun, consult with your dermatologist.

It’s easy to schedule an appointment with your dermatology provider – simply visit our online appointment tool, scroll to find your dermatology provider, and click to schedule an appointment at a time that works for your family!

It’s easy to schedule an appointment with your provider – simply visit our online appointment tool, scroll to find your provider, and click to schedule an appointment at a time that works for your family!

Make An Appointment

On your mark, get set, go! Summer Health and Fitness: Family Style

Family Fitness Fun

Physical fitness is truly a family affair – it’s good for every body! For people of all ages, physical activity is one of the most important parts of a healthy lifestyle. It’s recommended by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that adults have at least 150 – 300 minutes of moderate physical activity per week and children at least 60 minutes per day. Working another 30 – 60 minutes into already packed schedules is not easy, so it has to be fun, or let’s face it – we’re not doing it. We put our heads together and came up with some ideas for summer fun that make getting active as a family no sweat.

Make a splash!

Pool, sprinklers, water balloons, slip and slide, a car wash, or just the hose: you really can’t go wrong with any water-based activity. Just don’t forget to keep your sunscreen on-hand, and reapply throughout the day.

Create an obstacle course

Using what you have around your home and yard combined with physical activities (jumping jacks, anyone?), create a fun obstacle course. Time each other to see who can complete the course fastest.

Take a bike ride

Explore your neighborhood or local trails on bicycle. Biking is a great activity for all ages and skill levels. Don’t forget your helmet!

Neighborhood scavenger hunt

Create a list of objects to gather or tasks that can be completed in your yard or neighborhood. Or, try a photo scavenger hunt: rather than collecting treasures, have your scavengers take a photo of the object or activity. The first to return with all their boxes checked wins!

Go to a park

Need a change of scenery to get motivated? Check out your local parks. They offer trails for running, hiking or biking, team sports, swimming, play structures and oftentimes activities for kids – all within your community.

Play a game

When you love what you do, it doesn’t feel like work. The same is true for fitness. If you choose an activity that you and your family enjoy, you won’t event realize you are achieving your fitness goals. Whether its soccer, baseball, kickball, basketball or something you make up – pick your teams and let the games begin!

Dance party!

Create a playlist of family favorite tunes, and turn up the volume!

Plant a garden

Planning and creating a garden creates a reason to go outside every day. Maintaining the garden provides an opportunity for physical activity and as an added bonus creates a sense of responsibility. Plant and cook from a vegetable garden for an extra positive impact on your family’s health.

Join a class

The best way to fit fitness into your schedule, is to literally schedule it. Find a local facility that offers family fitness classes, or sign up individually.

Sign up for a race

Many charities or organizations will host a fun run or race as a fundraiser. Find one that appeals to your family, and sign up! The approaching race date will give you the motivation to train, and most of the time there are shorter route options for different ages and fitness levels, so everyone can join in.

Use a fitness tracker

Weekly Fitness Tracker

Keeping track of your physical activity is a great way to ensure you achieve your goals for daily activity. There are several digital trackers available for purchase or use this fridge-ready template to add up your minutes. As a friendly competition, have the whole family keep track of their time. Accountability goes a long way!

Remember: 15 minutes counts. A quick driveway basketball game or bike ride around the block can make some great strides towards a healthier lifestyle, and make an impact on your child’s lifestyle as they grow.

If you have questions or concerns about physical activity for anyone in your family, make an appointment with your pediatric or primary care provider today. And then get moving!

Make An Appointment

Is Tamiflu right for you?

Is Tamiflu Right For You?

 

With this year’s widespread influenza outbreak, you may have heard of Tamiflu, an antiviral medicine used as a treatment option for influenza. While Tamiflu may minimize flu symptoms, it won’t help everyone with the flu. Galen Engel, CNP, a trusted provider at IHA Urgent Care locations advises on common questions about Tamiflu – learn why it may or may not be the right option for you this flu season. 

I visited an IHA Urgent Care location and was tested for the flu – it turns out I have it. Why didn’t the Urgent Care provider prescribe me Tamiflu? I want to feel better, stat. 

Tamiflu isn’t a cure-all treatment for influenza. First, it is only recommended within the first 48 hours of the onset of flu symptoms. Additionally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends prescribing Tamiflu for “high risk” populations like those with chronic conditions (including asthma and diabetes), immunocompromised individuals, children less than 2 years of age (and some children less than 5 years of age), and pregnant women. Learn more about “high risk” populations. Finally, it is very important to have a conversation with the provider you are seeing at an IHA Urgent Care location to review your medical history and the length of your illness, so the best medical decision can be made for you as an individual. 

My kids / coworkers / classmates have the flu – can I get Tamiflu so that I don’t get sick too? 

Tamiflu as a preventive measure should be considered for populations who are “high risk” (see above) for complications from influenza – Tamiflu and other antiviral drugs may prevent serious complications and can make you feel better, faster. If you are concerned about exposure to the influenza virus, contact your primary care provider for guidance about possible preventive treatment. 

I’ve been sick for days – I heard Tamiflu is the only thing that works! Can I get it? 

Tamiflu is recommended within the first 48 hours of the onset of flu symptoms. Most people with the flu have mild illness and do not need medical care or antiviral drugs. 

I just started experiencing flu-like symptoms a few hours ago – what should I do? 

If you get sick with flu symptoms, in most cases, you should stay home and avoid contact with other people except to get medical care. If, however, you have symptoms of flu and are in a “high risk” group, or are very sick or worried about your illness, contact your primary care provider as soon as possible for guidance about treatment. Most people with the flu have mild illness and do not need medical care or antiviral drugs. 

Please seek medical attention immediately if you have any of the following: difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, purple or blue discoloration of the lips, pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen, sudden dizziness, confusion, severe or persistent vomiting, seizures or flu-like symptoms that improve but then return with fever and worse cough. Learn more about taking care of yourself & others through the flu. 

I’m breastfeeding my baby – will Tamiflu help me keep her safe from the flu? 

Tamiflu is advised to take during pregnancy and breastfeeding if necessary. There is a very low concentration of Tamiflu in breast milk. However, if you have the flu it is important to take precautions to avoid spreading the flu to your infant as babies cannot get a flu shot under 6 months old. Influenza may cause serious illness in postpartum women and prompt evaluation for febrile respiratory illnesses is recommended. Learn more about protecting your baby from the flu. 

 

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The 2017 – 2018 flu season is beginning to wane, but it is always important to protect yourself and others from the spread of the flu. If you haven’t had a flu shot since September 2017, it’s not too late – learn more & schedule your flu shot at IHA. 

 

Information for this blog post was interpreted from the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention’s resources on influenza. 

I Vaccinate

I Vaccinate is a campaign focused on informing Michigan parents about vaccinations using information and tools based on real medical science and research. Support for the campaign is provided by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and the Franny Strong Foundation.

At IHA, we believe in the safety and benefits of childhood immunizations. We advocate following the American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines for immunizations. We stay informed about newly published immunization studies and have not seen any studies that lead us to support the delay of immunizations or use of alternative immunization schedules. Alternative immunization schedules leave children unprotected at the most vulnerable ages.

To best protect your children, our other patients, as well as our staff and providers from preventable illnesses, we have made the decision to only accept new families into our practices who plan to fully immunize their children according to the Center for Disease Control and American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines. If your child is behind on the recommended immunizations, the office may contact you or we ask that you discuss this with your child’s provider at their next visit.

Click here to learn more about I Vaccinate.

Sunburn Art & Sunscreen

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Recently social media has been filled with trending “Sunburn Art” photos – people strategically applying sunscreen in extravagant patterns then getting intensely sunburned to display the masterpiece. Although it may be tempting to show off artistic talents for the Instagram likes and retweets, sunburns can have long term consequences on your skin health, including risk for skin cancer and premature aging. As you enjoy the outdoors this summer here are a few tips for sunscreen use:

What kind of sunscreen should I buy? Do I really need the SPF 100+? The best option is to find one that you are willing to wear regularly! The American Academy of Dermatology recommends that sunscreen should be broad spectrum with protection against both UVA and UVB. This should be at least SPF 30 and water resistant. Many dermatologists recommend a higher SPF, even SPF 100. This is due to recent research showing that many people do not apply sunscreen as thick as how the SPF number was established. Often, people use as little as 25-50%! Using a higher SPF may partially compensate for putting on too little. Using a moisturizer containing sunscreen on exposed skin can be nice for daily use when you know you won’t have extended time outside. Usually the SPF in makeup is an added bonus but is not applied thick enough to rely on.

What is the safest way to apply sunscreen? It is best to apply sunscreen 15-20 minutes before going outdoors. It takes this long to fully absorb. Make sure to apply it to all exposed skin, getting help for hard to reach places like the middle of the back. To get the true SPF value on the bottle, sunscreen amount should be based on the “teaspoon rule” – 1 teaspoon to the face/neck/scalp, 1 teaspoon for each arm, 1 teaspoon to the chest and abdomen, 1 teaspoon to the back, and 2 teaspoons for each leg. Please be sure to re-apply every two hours while outside because the sunscreen will lose effectiveness over time. The re-application rule is also important after swimming or heavy sweating. Many people who wore sunscreen at the beginning of long day outside get burned because of not reapplying. Keep up the good work!

But I hate the feel and smell of sunscreen. What are my alternatives? Physical blockage from the sun by clothing is an alternative to sunscreen. There are many marketplace options for UPF (ultraviolet protection factor) clothing with UVA and UVB protection based on weave and thickness of the fabric. This should be taken with caution because bleaching or stretching the fabric can decrease the effectiveness. A broad brim hat can be helpful but this has been documented to only show SPF protection less than 10 (and a baseball hat has a SPF 1.5 for the nose at best!). These are best used in combination with other forms of sun protection.

Do the sunscreen recommendations change for my kids? Sun protection for kids and teenagers is super important! It is well documented that sun exposure in childhood is a risk factor for developing skin cancer as an adult. Per the American Academy of Pediatrics, it is best to use other sun protective methods first (shade, sun protective clothing, hats) with broad spectrum sunscreen applied on skin that is still exposed. Sunscreens with UV blocking active ingredients titanium dioxide and zinc oxide are recommended for children under two years old.

If you are interested in having a skin cancer screening or would like to have a concerning lesion evaluated, our board-certified and experienced dermatologists at IHA Dermatology are always happy to help in any way that we can. Just call us at 734-667-DERM (3376) to schedule an appointment.

Question about Base Tans

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Question: I’m getting married this summer and want to be tan in my wedding photos and on my honeymoon. Will visiting the tanning salon a few times decrease my chances of getting a sunburn if I get a base tan? Also, aren’t tanning salons safer than laying out in the sun?

Answer: You’d be surprised how often these questions are asked! The short answer is NO and NO! Any type of tan is a sign of skin damage. A tan is the skin’s response to UV damage to the skin’s DNA. The skin darkens to prevent more damage, but your risk of skin cancer is already increased. There is no such thing as a “safe” or “healthy” tan.

Tanning beds deliver concentrated levels of UVA and UVB radiation, both of which cause cell damage that can lead to skin cancer. UVA radiation also penetrates deeper into the skin and causes irreversible skin aging like loss of elasticity, wrinkles and brown spots.

If you want to look tan in your wedding photos, try a sunless tanning cream or lotion. You can still get the glow you want without any of the skin damage.

As far as your honeymoon, take plenty of sunscreen with you. Look for a sunscreen that is SPF 30 or higher, broad spectrum (blocking both UVA and UVB), and water-resistant. Be sure to apply sunscreen at least 15 minutes before going outdoors, and to reapply sunscreen at least every 2 hours or immediately after getting wet (for example, after getting out of a pool). Forgetting to reapply sunscreen throughout the day is the one step that most people forget during vacation and that leads to sunburns. Sunscreen only maintains its listed SPF for approximately 90 minutes, after which point the SPF starts to decrease and the sunscreen starts to lose its ability to block ultraviolet light. Shade and clothing can also help protect you from UV rays. Wear protective UV-blocking sunglasses, broad-brimmed hats and tightly-woven clothes and seek shade when possible. Getting into the habit of protecting yourself from UV rays is as simple as the steps above and will allow you to enjoy the outdoors without damaging your skin.

This article was originally published on May 18, 2015, and was updated on April 12, 2017.

Seasonal Allergies

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It’s that time of the year when runny noses, itchy eyes, and scratchy throats start. It is allergy season. For many people, when spring starts and trees and grass grow they start getting allergy symptoms. Allergies can happen all year, though.

Common environmental allergies can be due to dust mites, animals, pollen, grass and trees, just to name a few. Each of these allergies can happen more often in different times of the year. Grass and trees are often bothersome to people in spring, whereas pollens are in the late summer. Dust mite allergies can be found all year round.

When symptoms are bad, many people turn to medications for help. There are some things you can try prior to using medications. For example, for dust mite allergies you can try using dust mite covers on your pillow and bed. Staying in air conditioning may help symptoms when the pollen count is high. You can also flush out the allergens by using a netti pot or saline eye drops.

Medications that can be helpful include decongestants and antihistamines. Decongestants help relieve nasal congestion symptoms once they have started. Antihistamines block the histamine reaction and help prevent symptoms from happening. They often have to be taken several days to weeks prior to exposure to the allergens. Nasal steroids can also help decrease nasal congestion symptoms and work right at the source of the congestion. There are allergy eye drops that help with itchy, watery eyes too.

If you are having allergy symptoms that are not improving with over the counter medication, it is time to see your primary care doctor to discuss your symptoms. There may be another reason for your symptoms or other medication or treatments to consider. Allergy testing may also be needed to figure out what specifically you are allergic to so that you can avoid the allergen.

This article was originally published on March 20, 2015, and was updated on April 10, 2017.