June 23, 2018
Health & Fitness
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  • Nasal allergies affect nearly 50 million people in the United States, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America.
    Photo by Maya Pottiger
    Nasal allergies affect nearly 50 million people in the United States, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America.

What To Know Ahead Of Allergy Season

Maya Pottiger
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March 6, 2018

It’s time again to stock up on tissues and your preferred antihistamines. Allergy season is upon us.

Nasal allergies affect nearly 50 million people in the United States, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America.

The most universally bothersome allergens are pollens, said Dr. Timothy Andrews of Allergy and Asthma Associates, P.A. in Arnold. The prominent pollens differ depending on the allergy season. In the spring, we have tree and grass pollens. In the fall, we have weeds, specifically ragweed.

Andrews gave a timeline of the allergy seasons:

·         March-May: tree pollen

·         May-June: grass pollen

·         July-August: heat and humidity have killed majority of pollens

·         Mid-August-October: weed pollen, particularly ragweed

There isn’t a way to predict how bad an allergy season will be, according to Andrews. “I always find it interesting that every year it's the ‘worst allergy season,’” he said. “I think it's been pretty consistent from year to year in regarding the peak of allergies.”

Of all the pollens, Andrews said oak pollen is the most prolific. When oak trees are pollinating, the pollen count can ascend to the thousands, Andrews said. On an average day, the pollen count is usually in the hundreds.

The good news is that preventative measures can keep allergies at bay. The main way is by maintaining a pollen-free indoor environment by closing your windows and rinsing off when you get inside.

If you often use medications like Claritin, Allegra or Zyrtec, it can be beneficial to take them on a regular basis to build up the antihistamines in your system, Andrews said. However, if you have allergy symptoms only on a day-to-day basis, it’s not generally necessary to take medication every day.

For those people who depend on allergy medication to get them through allergy season, a nasal spray can be beneficial. For more extreme cases, you can undergo a series of allergy shots that desensitize you to allergens. The shots are effective immediately, but require three to five years of commitment, Andrews said.

Allergy symptoms can present themselves in other forms. Some people experience seasonal asthma and allergy eczema. Those symptoms require an allergist appointment for prescription treatments.

A subset of people also experience food allergy syndrome. Unlike its name, this is not an allergic reaction to the food being consumed, but a reaction to the pollen on it.

“These patients will develop oral symptoms with certain fresh fruits and some fresh vegetables,” Andrews said. “If it's bothering you, you avoid it. And if someone's having more significant reactions, they should get evaluated.”


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