As if we’re not dealing with enough right now, it’s also allergy season. If you’re experiencing congestion, a runny nose, and itchy eyes, you’re not alone. About 20% of people of all ages have hay fever, which is an allergic reaction to pollen that involves the nose, and about 8% have asthma.
You might need some relief–at least so you can keep your hands away from your face and avoid questioning looks when you sneeze. This year, more than ever, we recommend using the Telehealth options you have available to you. Some employer plans don’t cover telehealth, so please confirm with your group administrator if you’re not sure.
Here are some options for getting allergy care without going in person:
- Call your in-network primary care doctor’s office.
- Call the 24-Hour NurseLine is available at no charge. Just call the number on the back of your member ID card to reach medical professionals.
- Use Doctor On Demand to chat with a doctor by video.
- Use 98point6 to text with a doctor.
- Download Premera MyCare for virtual care.
Common causes of allergic rhinitis are pollens, insects, animals, and molds. The first course of treatment is to avoid whatever is triggering allergy symptoms:
- Check the pollen counts and stay inside on bad days.
- Use a HEPA filter at home.
- Keep home and car windows shut on high pollen days.
- Vacuum frequently.
- Shower and rinse your eyes and nose after spending time outdoors. Pollen sticks to hair and clothes.
- Use dust mite barriers on bedding and furniture.
- Keep home humidity levels between 30 and 50 percent. Monitors are available at hardware stores. Avoid humidifiers that can make the problem worse.
- Avoid dogs, cats, rodents, birds and ferrets, which all may trigger allergy symptoms, until you know which animal is the source of your symptoms.
- Keep the animal away from allergic people or confined to (or from) certain rooms.
- Vacuum using a cleaner with a HEPA filter.
If symptoms are persistent despite taking over-the-counter remedies like antihistamines, you might need to see a doctor. Your doctor may be able to help you identify the source of your allergies and help you improve avoidance of the source by better understanding the pattern of your symptoms. You might be prescribed an additional medication including a nasal spray or eye drops to alleviate the symptoms.
Allergy testing is rarely necessary unless you plan on moving away from the pollens, eliminating an animal from your environment, or need immunotherapy (allergy shots). Most Premera health plans offer coverage for tests when medically necessary. Talk to your primary care doctor if you have concerns.