Doctor's In: Spring Is Here, So Is Pollen!

The spring season brings pollen and, to many, allergies. What can be done to relieve symptoms?

Q: I always have allergies in the spring, and sometimes nothing works to reduce my symptoms. What can I do?

A: Spring is here, along with pollen and allergies.  The pollen count is high this year so those who suffer are looking at a difficult season. People with asthma and other pulmonary problems can face serious health risks with the onset of allergy symptoms. 

Although the list is long, typically spring allergens include trees, grass, and weed pollen; dust mite and cockroach droppings; cat, dog and rodent dander. Reactions can progress to life threatening anaphylactic shock in severely sensitive individuals.  For most of us it is the sniffles, sneezing, and occasionally headaches, vomiting or cramps. 

Hints to reduce seasonal symptoms include starting medications immediately with onset of mild illness.  There are a number of over-the-counter medications such as antihistamines, which can be effective in almost half the symptomatic population.  However, there are medical conditions like high blood pressure and asthma that limit treatment choices.  Your doctor should be consulted before you start OTC medications.

Other suggestions for those with difficulties include purchasing high quality filters for your air conditioner that should be changed each spring or as recommended; planning outdoor gardening activity when the pollen count is low; using indoor vaporizers and humidifiers; and keeping car windows closed when driving.

An allergist can determine if you are a candidate for desensitization treatment.  Severe allergies can be disabling and undermine the wonderful spring weather.

Have a question for Dr. Yacht? Email mjyacht58@gmail.com.       

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Sherri Lonon April 06, 2012 at 12:27 AM
Thanks for the great information Dr. Yacht! I was wondering with how heavy the pollen has been in the air this year, if it's possible for those without allergies to face some similar symptoms?
Keli Sipperley (Editor) April 06, 2012 at 12:35 AM
And are headaches and a dry, itchy throat possibly pollen/allergy related? (Ugh!)
Marc J. Yacht MD, MPH April 06, 2012 at 12:53 AM
http://www.weather.com/outlook/health/allergies/weather/33609 Note web page that can give daily pollen counts. At the moment the Tree pollen count is high, People can develop allergies that have not had a prior history. Typically the ones who suffer are well aware of their problems. It is important to separate allergies from the flu or other upper respiratory infections. Allergies do not typically cause fever or sweats. Sneezing and congestion are more common symptoms.
Marc J. Yacht MD, MPH April 06, 2012 at 01:04 AM
They can be along with itchy eyes and sometimes it is difficult to distinguish allergies from a cold or upper respiratory infection. Allergies have a quick onset when exposed to an allergen and can continue as long as there is exposure. In some instances weeks. Colds usually disappear after a week to ten days. Added fever and body aches suggest a cold or upper respiratory infection. If symptoms progress it is best to be evaluated by your doctor.
Sherri Lonon April 06, 2012 at 02:03 AM
Thanks, Dr. Yacht!


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