Staff at Medical Group of the Carolinas — Medical Affiliates — North Grove wear yellow for allergy week

Springing into allergy season

It’s spring and you can’t wait to get outdoors. Getting outside to hike, picnic or plant a new garden may sound like a joyful experience, but for some, the spring brings discomfort. With the arrival of spring comes allergy season.

“Spring is by far worse than fall for people with allergies,” said allergist Robin Go, MD, of Medical Group of the Carolinas—Medical Affiliates—North Grove. “Since everything is dead in winter, there’s a sudden attack of allergies when the trees start blooming.”

In recent years, the Upstate has ranked as one of the worst areas in the United States for allergies. In fact, Greenville, S.C., was ranked 30th on a list of the 100 worst cities for people with allergies.

“The Upstate of South Carolina is blessed with mild weather and four seasons, and we have long spring and fall seasons, thus extending our pollen seasons,” Dr. Go said. “This is true for the entire region.”

During World Allergy Week, recognized this year from April 2-8, clinicians like Dr. Go and his team work to bring awareness about the topic of allergies, including seasonal and food allergies.

The worst offenders are tree pollens, particularly hickory and pecan trees, he said.

“Grass pollen is another big offender. Most people are allergic to multiple types of grass, or sometimes to all, because grass types are very closely related,” he said. “It is the pollen that we are allergic to, not the actual grass blades. Getting a rash from rolling in the grass is a different type of reaction.”

When it comes to allergy relief, over-the-counter and prescription allergy medications can be helpful, but helping solve the problem may bring more long-term relief.

“It would be helpful to identify what you are allergic to, and devise practical ways to avoid and deal with them,” Dr. Go said. “Keep windows closed, don’t hang clothes outside to dry, take a shower in the evening, avoid being outdoors when it’s windy, and change your clothes after you’ve been outside to avoid pollens.”

To determine whether someone has allergy issues, Dr. Go and his team perform a scratch test, which consists of plastic dipped in particular pollens or dust mite, mold or animal extract. These are then used to make a small scratch on the skin to see how your body reacts to the different items.

Blood tests are available for certain situations when skin tests are not possible. Breathing tests are also performed to check lung function for patients who have chronic cough or asthma as well.

For more information on how to treat your allergies, please call Medical Group of the Carolinas — Medical Affiliates — North Grove at 864-585-5433.