When allergy symptoms don’t improve, you may be dealing with an underlying cause such as poor indoor air quality, a wrong diagnosis, or failure to use helpful allergen-reducing products. Figuring out what’s causing your persistent allergies can be frustrating, but it’s well worth taking stock of your home and lifestyle to see if anything needs to change. If you’re suffering from allergies in Jacksonville, North Carolina, here are a few reasons your symptoms aren’t improving.

Misdiagnosis

In many cases, allergy symptoms are mild or don’t occur so infrequently that doctors overlook other concerns. For example, runny nose, sneezing, itching, and diarrhea are also symptoms of food poisoning, gastroenteritis, a cold, indigestion, or the flu. In these cases, however, the symptoms will clear up as soon as the condition passes, but what about when the symptoms stick around?

Asthma has many of the same symptoms as allergies but is a more critical concern because it has the potential to be life-threatening. Asthma is a chronic respiratory condition characterized by spasms in the lungs which may result from an allergic reaction or other hypersensitivity. Since allergies and asthma are so often intertwined, it can be difficult to determine if one is indicative of the other.

According to experts, an asthma attack and an allergic reaction are similar responses to an allergen. With an allergic reaction, you’ll typically experience congestion and sneezing. When an asthma attack occurs in the lungs, you’ll have trouble breathing and might cough or wheeze due to the inflammation in the bronchial tubes.

If your allergy symptoms seem to be more lung-based, it’s time to see an asthma specialist. While a full evaluation by your primary care physician can help uncover the problem, an asthma specialist or allergist should make the final diagnosis.

Once you’ve properly addressed your asthma and have controlled your exposure to allergens, you should see a noted improvement in your symptoms.

Failing to Heed Doctor Recommendations

Whether you’re dealing with seasonal allergies, chronic allergies, or asthma, it’s crucial to abide by your doctor’s orders. When you fail to carry out a doctor’s prescribed treatment, you expose yourself to more asthma attacks and allergy flare-ups, which is something no one wants to deal with.

In general, there are two types of allergy treatments:

  • Medication
  • Immunotherapy

An asthma specialist will prescribe medications if you can’t avoid allergens. These are usually antihistamines and decongestants, many of which you can find over the counter. These medications address symptoms like sneezing, itching, runny nose, and stuffy nose. Prescription medications prevent chemical releases in the body caused by allergic reactions, and corticosteroids treat inflammation.

Immunotherapy is a preventative allergy treatment for common allergens like dust mites, grass pollen, and bee venom. The therapy involves giving the patient gradually increasing doses of whatever substances he or she is allergic to. This process elicits an immune response, allowing the body to become less sensitive to the trigger.

Immunotherapy can even reduce inflammation caused by asthma and rhinitis. To begin treatment, however, the patient must be tested for multiple allergens. If immunotherapy is the right strategy, the patient will receive allergy shots, allergy drops, or allergy tablets.

Which type of treatment or medication you need depends on your symptoms and your doctor’s recommendation. If you avoid taking your medication properly, however, or you avoid more aggressive treatments like bi-weekly allergy shots, you leave yourself exposed to allergy triggers.

Failing to Use Anti-Allergen Products While Sleeping

If you’ve ever shopped for products that protect against allergies, you’ve probably noticed a ton of products in the bedding department. The reason for this is that we’re exposed to so many allergens when we sleep, particularly dust mites.

Dust mites burrow deep into the mattress with their suckers and hooks and live off dust, including flakes of human skin. The only way to remove these dust mites is to wash bedding in hot water once a week and dry it in a hot dryer. Unfortunately, not everything we sleep on can go in the washing machine.

Protect your mattress and pillows with allergy-reducing covers that keep out dust mites. When you buy a new mattress and pillows, zip them in dust-mite-proof covers before sleeping on them. If you’ve already been using a mattress or pillow without protection, it’s not too late to add some extra layers of protection. Simply vacuum the mattress and box spring first with an HEPA-equipped vacuum to remove as much dust as possible.

Other ways to reduce dust inside the home include getting rid of decorative pillows and stuffed animals, switching out carpets for bare floors, and minimizing clutter to make it easier to dust surfaces and objects. Above all, your best defense against allergens in the home is cleanliness, so take your chore list seriously.

Avoiding HVAC Maintenance

When was the last time your scheduled your annual HVAC maintenance? Having your HVAC system maintained every year is essential not only to ensure it operates at peak efficiency but also so your family avoids breathing in allergy or asthma triggers.

Without regular care, HVAC systems get dusty. Even if you’re changing your air filters every one to three months to avoid dust buildup, you can’t see what’s accumulating inside the ductwork. Dust mites, pet dander, mold, and even microorganisms like the Toxoplasma gondii parasite (from cat litter) can all set up shop inside your ducts, vents, coils, and HVAC motors. When left unchecked, this creates a mat-like environment where bacteria and allergens thrive, and you can just imagine what happens when the freshly conditioned air passes through such a mess.

That’s right. The air coming from your vents carries those allergens with it — and you and our family breathe it in. Unless you keep your ductwork and air vents clean, you run the risk of seeing a noticeable decline in indoor air quality. Plus, those allergy flare-ups will become more frequent and perhaps more severe.

In addition, dust buildup restricts airflow and makes the system work harder than it needs to. This wastes energy and causes the system to wear down more quickly, shortening its life span and resulting in costly damages. There’s simply no need to live with dirty ducts and an inefficient HVAC system that’s causing you and your family to suffer through respiratory issues, especially when you consider how affordable and effective annual HVAC maintenance is.

Be sure to schedule your HVAC maintenance around the same time each year to enjoy the maximum benefits.

Failing to Ask About Indoor Air Quality Solutions

With today’s HVAC technology, there’s no reason to needlessly suffer from indoor allergies. Speak with a technician at Carolina Comfort Air about your options. Whether your home is riddled with dust, bacteria, mold, mildew, chemicals, pollen, pet dander, or toxins, indoor air quality solutions can clear things up and allow you to breathe easier.

Our most popular indoor air quality products include:

  • Air cleaners/purifiers
  • Ventilators
  • UV lights
  • Whole-home humidifiers and dehumidifiers

Depending on your home and your HVAC system, you might need one or a combination of these products to improve the air quality. For example, homes with excess moisture, such as those with musty basements, may need a dehumidifier and bathroom ventilator to keep moisture levels in check. Drier environments may require a whole-home humidifier.

Ultraviolet (UV) lights are another innovative solution that not only alleviates allergies but can also reduce your exposure to the cold and flu. UV air sterilization lights kill germs, bacteria, mold and odors as air passes through them, resulting in fresh, breathable air flowing through your ductwork.

Another option is coil sterilization, which is a stick-like UV light installed in the return air duct. It runs 24/7 to sterilize the air handler coil and is reasonably priced for homeowners on any budget.

Keep in mind, however, that UV lights and other indoor air quality products require regular maintenance. Your HVAC technician should inspect, clean, and replace these products as needed during an annual HVAC service. Fortunately, the costs associated with maintaining these products is more than made up for in medication savings and the ability to breathe easier in your own home.

Discover how you can start improving your allergy symptoms at home today. Call Carolina Comfort Air at 919-879-2106 to schedule an appointment for our indoor air quality services.