Every Spring for about the past 10 years, I have developed symptoms associated with seasonal allergies...congestion, sneezing, coughing, etc. Within a couple of weeks of developing symptoms, I invariably develop a sinus infection, and I spend my whole Spring in misery. It starts every March, ends sometime in June. An allergist performed a skin test about 4 years ago and it came back negative. He prescribed Flonase & Astelin for my symptoms, these medications have had little if any effect.
Last year was the worst Spring I have endured yet, for 3 months I had a sinus infection, chronic cough, nausea, and overall lethargy.
A co-worker told me his allergist gives him a steroid shot to treat his allergies, and it works wonders for him. I went to his allergist, he performed a series of skin tests which also came back negative. He didn't treat me with steroids, I suppose the negative results on the skin test disqualified me for that treatment.
My questions are:
(1. Just how accurate are these skin tests? I'm not a physician, but I think my history over the past 10 years strongly suggests that I do, indeed, suffer from seasonal allergies.)
(2. Are there any reasons why I may not be a candidate for steroid shots to treat my symptoms? Even if it is just a temporary fix, every day it helps is one less miserable Spring day for me.)
(3. What other medications might be useful in treating my symptoms?)
I can't endure another Spring like last year's, and neither can my co-workers and family. Any suggestions?
Here are responses to your questions:
1. Skin tests are pretty accurate with respect to determining if someone is allergic or not. History alone is often not an accurate indicator of allergy as there are several conditions that mimic the symptoms.
2. Steroid injections are not appropriate for the treatment of allergies. Inhaled nasal steroids are the first choice, followed by short courses of oral steroids in rare, but severe cases. The side effect potential from steroid injects is not warranted for most allergic problems.
3. Starting on inhaled nasal steroids now and using antihistamines to help with additional symptoms is a reasonable approach.
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