This week provided the first real taste of spring, but for those with seasonal allergies, spring has literally been “in the air” for some time. In fact, people with spring allergies are most likely already experiencing sneezing, watery eyes and fatigue because of tree pollen.
“Our area of the country typically experiences high tree pollen levels from March through May,” said Marjorie Slankard, M.D., Director of Allergy and Immunology at The Valley Hospital. This year’s colder weather may have delayed the process a bit, but once the warmer weather hits pollen levels will shoot up.
According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI), more than 40 million Americans suffer from seasonal allergies, and this is expected to be one of the worst seasons we have seen for tree pollen.
- But there are ways to help control your allergy symptoms and reduce your suffering. Dr. Slankard and the ACAAI offer the following tips to help keep seasonal allergy symptoms under control:
- Know your triggers. Make sure you know what is causing your symptoms – it may turn out that pollen is not the culprit. Speak to your primary care doctor, who may recommend you see an allergist who can identify the source of your symptoms.
- Treat before you sneeze. Don’t wait for allergy symptoms to hit before you take your medication. Allergists recommend you begin taking your over-the-counter or prescription allergy medication one to two weeks before symptoms typically hit.
- Monitor pollen and mold counts —many media sources report this information during allergy seasons.
- Keep indoor air clean. Use air conditioning and keep windows and doors shut at home, and in your car during allergy season.
- Stay inside as much as you can from 6 to 10 a.m. and 4 to 6 p.m. when pollen counts are highest.
- Take a shower, wash hair and change clothing after being outdoors working or playing.
- If you can, delegate outdoor chores like mowing the lawn. If you can’t delegate the chores, consider wearing a mask to cut down on your exposure to outdoor allergens. An allergist can help you find the type of mask that works best.
- When home and over-the-counter remedies aren't enough, see your doctor. For many people, avoiding allergens and taking over-the-counter medications is enough to ease symptoms. But if your seasonal allergies are still bothersome, don't give up. A number of other treatments are available. For some people, allergy shots, called allergy immunotherapy, can be a good option. The treatment involves regular injections containing tiny amounts of the substances that cause your allergies. Over time, these injections reduce the immune system reaction that causes symptoms.
To find a Valley Hospital allergist near you, please call 1-800-VALLEY 1, or visit www.ValleyMedicalStaff.com to search by specialty.