Allergies: Answers from Allergy Expert Dr. Sandra Lin

Man sneezing outdoors and covering his nose

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Dr. Sandra Lin, a Johns Hopkins allergy expert, answers some of the most commonly asked questions about treating environmental allergies

What are the most effective ways to treat seasonal allergies?

Allergies are treated with avoidance of the allergen and medications. For those that have symptoms despite these treatments, sublingual immunotherapy is an option.

What is sublingual immunotherapy?

Immunotherapy treats the cause of allergies by giving small doses of what a person is allergic to, which increases “immunity” or tolerance to the allergen and reduces the allergic symptoms. Unlike injection immunotherapy, which is given as shots in a doctor’s office, sublingual immunotherapy is given at home as drops or tablets under the tongue.

Do you have any natural remedies that you suggest?

Saline washes of the nose are helpful in washing out allergens, and many of my patients find them to be helpful.

Can you allergy-proof your home?

Allergy-proofing should be directed toward the allergens you are sensitive to. Allergy testing can be helpful in this regard. If you are allergic to outdoor allergens such as pollen, keeping the windows closed and running the air conditioning can be helpful. For pet allergies, keeping the pet out of the bedroom and washing the pet frequently can help. For those with dust mite allergies, HEPA filters, mattress covers and washing bedding can help.

What do you think the next important research around allergies and asthma will be?

The next important studies, in my opinion, will focus on how we can prevent allergies and asthma. Some studies have shown the immunotherapy can prevent the development of allergic asthma; if we can identify those children at high risk at a young age, we may be able to really impact their lives by preventing the development of asthma and new allergies.