Spring has sprung, and so have our allergies

Spring has sprung, and so have our allergies

By Marlene Peng, MD
Allergist, Minor & James

For many, spring is time to celebrate the end of constant rain and cold weather. For those with allergies, however, spring signals the beginning of misery. Often it starts with a little runny nose and tickle in the throat, but then becomes constant congestion, itchy eyes and nose and coughing.

Seasonal allergic rhinitis, or “hay fever,” affects more than 20% of people in the United States. Allergies are triggered by allergens such as pollen or mold spores. Many trees, grasses and weeds contain small and light pollens that are easily carried by the wind, causing allergy symptoms to flare up during their pollination season.

Unless an allergy sufferer decides never to go outside during the allergy season, preventing exposure to pollens will be difficult. Some tips that can decrease exposure include keeping the windows closed when pollen counts are high, washing hands and face after coming indoors or showering before bed, and wearing a mask when mowing the lawn or gardening. Peak pollen times are between 5 AM-10 AM, so minimizing outdoor activity during this time will also decrease exposure.

Allergies not only cause nasal and eye discomfort; they also can trigger complications such as asthma and chronic sinus or ear infections. It becomes even more important in these cases to treat allergies for prevention of these more serious diseases.

An allergist can test to determine exactly which pollen is causing difficulty, select the appropriate medication to take and discuss alternate therapy options. An allergist also will assess and treat the complications such as asthma. There are many treatment options for allergies that include antihistamines, nasal sprays, and allergy shots.

Many people ask whether allergy shots really work, and the answer is a resounding yes. Treatment is based on the concept that the immune system can be desensitized to specific allergens that trigger symptoms. While common allergy medications may control symptoms, once you stop taking them, the symptoms return. The benefit of allergy shots is that they actually change your immune system’s reaction, such that it no longer sees the pollens as allergic. There are pros and cons to allergy shots, but they are a cost-effective approach to managing allergy symptoms.

For those who suffer from runny nose, itching, fatigue, congestion, trouble breathing, there is help out there to make the spring and summer seasons fully enjoyable again. 

Comments
Deepak
I also have lived in NYC and Northern Virginia, and I will say this. When I was little I lived IN Manhattan, then we moved out to the Bronx, also a swamp. My aligreles were insane, puffy eyes, drippy oozy eyes, so bad once I woke up, and I'll never forget this, I couldnt open one eye because of all the crust over night, I had sore throats, clogged ears, stuffed noses and mounds of pressure. Then we moved to Queens, near the water, and I was FINE. Nothing, never a problem, an occasional sneeze attack every now and again, but the other symptoms, gone. Then I moved to Northern Virginia, and almost immediately my body rejected the climate. Stuffy, running nose all the time, sore throat, right near the nasal passage opening, not so much my throat, but it was/is haha sometime uncomfortable to swallow in the early early spring. My ears have gotten it the worst though, because my nose plugs up so easily, the pressure builds up and collects, and just pops my ears all day and night long, it has gotten so bad that it actually hurts. All these things never last long though, 2 or 3 nights or uncomfy sleeping, but then I am fine. Reason why I am posting this : you are not alone!! I see move to the beach.
9/25/2012 2:16:10 PM
Terry Merritt
I recommend seeing a doctor to have your allergies checked and take the medications given. Some people are carefree during summer and sometimes ignore the allergies they feel. but to fully enjoy, we should be careful as well.
12/15/2011 1:46:27 AM
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