The sun is shining, flowers are blooming, and leaves on the trees have turned green.
While the growing foliage and warmer temperatures are paradise for some, the allergies created by pollen-producing plants can be a source of endless discomfort to those with allergies.
“Tree pollens are the main culprit in early spring, followed by grass pollens in late spring and summer,” said allergist Robin Go, MD, of Medical Group of the Carolinas—Medical Affiliates—North Grove. “Ragweed starts pollinating in late summer, and the most common symptoms involve the eyes, nose, throat, and chest and lungs.”
Sniffling, sneezing and itchy eyes are a byproduct of spring weather for those who suffer from allergies and sinusitis, or inflammation of the sinuses. Sinuses are cavities in the skull that connect with your nasal cavities. Sinuses both lighten the bones of the skull and also serve as resonating chambers for when we speak. However, they are susceptible to infection and inflammation, causing stuffy noses, fevers, impaired sense of smell and headaches.
“Tearing, runny nose, sneezing, congestion and cough are very common. Some people have shortness of breath, wheezing and chest tightness,” Dr. Go said. “For most allergy sufferers, these are not just bothersome symptoms. Symptoms do occur quickly upon exposure, but due to the late phase reaction involved in an allergic process, symptoms continue.”
Allergies are also a disorder of the immune system. Mild allergies like hay fever are highly prevalent and cause symptoms such as allergic conjunctivitis, itchiness and runny nose. Pollen, mold, pet dander, and dust mites can contribute to allergies.
“People are affected in more profound ways, including feeling tired, lacking energy, and not being able to function normally,” Dr. Go said. “What results is not just annoyance, but a lack of productivity for the patient and the caregivers. Some people actually lose their self-esteem and get depressed.”
How can I find relief?
- Limit your exposure to what triggers your allergies.
- Wash your face and hands after spending time outdoors.
- For indoor allergens: remove carpeting from bedrooms, wash rugs and curtains, and vacuum regularly.
- Antihistamines will help block the histamines that cause the tissues to swell.
- Wear a dust mask while mowing the lawn or cleaning your house.
- Change the air filters in your home regularly.
“For relief, number one is to minimize, if not completely avoid the triggers. This is where allergy tests come in, for accurate diagnosis. You may suspect you’re allergic to the indoor dog, but in fact, the dog could be bringing in the pollen from outside,” Dr. Go said. “Make sure windows are closed at home and in the vehicle, and to just use re-circulating air.”
When over the counter medications and avoidance are not working, it’s time to consult your physician.
For relief, these allergies may need to be treated with medication, and possibly avoidance of what is causing the allergies.
Over-the-counter medications may help reduce or prevent symptoms, such as antihistamines, decongestants, and steroid nasal sprays. It is important to know the ingredients of OTC medications and what they are for, not just the brand names. Make sure you check with your medical provider about possible drug interactions and/or side effects. If symptoms are more persistent, you need to consult your medical provider, and consider getting help from a board certified allergy specialist.
For more information on how to cure your allergies, please call Medical Group of the Carolinas—Medical Affiliates—North Grove at 864-585-5433.