DON’T DELAY YOUR CARE IF YOU’RE SUFFERING THROUGH ALLERGY SEASON
Most people think of summer and look forward to lots of sunshine and great times outdoors enjoying favorite pastimes like swimming, picnics and more. Especially now, after months inside because of the pandemic, it seems everyone is making plans to go out with friends, enjoy live concerts, travel, and make the most of summer.
However, if you’re one of the estimated 50 million seasonal allergy sufferers, you might find yourself having to put some of those plans on hold. Your watery eyes, alternating runny-stuffy nose, and tickle in your throat are back in a bigger way than usual. This year, more than in years past, people who suffer from seasonal allergies may find their symptoms are worse.
Warmer temperatures from climate change have increased allergens floating in the air. There are higher levels of pollen and longer pollen seasons. At the same time, people may feel worse symptoms this year because the masks they wore last year during the pandemic also helped filter out allergens.
Everything combined, this allergy season packs a bigger punch than previous seasons and may even affect those who have not had issues before.
According to Dr. Hassan Nasir, an Allergy & Immunology specialist at Memorial Healthcare, “Allergies can develop at any time in your life. We’re seeing a lot more people suffering through allergy season this year, but there are many things we can do to treat symptoms and help people get relief.”
What Can be Done?
The first steps are often simple ones:
- If you have an air purifier, turn it on and stay inside on warm, windy days when pollen is at its strongest.
- If you do go out for a walk, consider wearing your mask again to filter out allergens.
- If you want to take a drive, keep the windows of your vehicle rolled up and the air conditioning on.
- Take a shower before bedtime to wash off any allergen that’s found its way onto your clothing, body, or hair during the day. This keeps allergens out of your bedding and may help you sleep better.
- Use a sinus cleaning kit, with squeeze bottle or neti pot with a distilled water and saline solution to rinse your sinuses once a day. This will clear the mucus and allergens from your nose and give quick relief. Sometimes, once the cause is removed, the symptoms lessen.
“If these steps aren’t helping enough, you might try adding an over-the-counter oral antihistamine, decongestant, a pill that’s a combination of the two, or a saline or anti-inflammatory spray,” says Dr. Nasir. “Choose the one that addresses your symptoms best.”
What to do Next?
If at-home methods aren’t working or symptoms persist, talk with your doctor, who can make an assessment and provide a treatment plan that helps you get relief. This is especially important for people who are multi-sensitized to pollens, meaning they are allergic to more than one type of pollen. They may experience a continuation of allergy symptoms with each warm season — spring through fall.
“If you see your family doctor and they believe you need to see a physician who specializes in Allergy and Immunology or Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT), they can refer you,” suggests Dr. Nasir. “There’s just no reason to suffer through seasonal allergies; there’s so much we can do to help patients feel better.”
In addition to our warmer climate and thriving pollen and mold spores, you might have an underlying condition that needs to be addressed. A nasal polyp or deviated septum can develop over time and can usually be easily managed with an in-office or outpatient procedure. An Allergist/Immunologist can examine you for these, as well as administer skin or blood tests that show exactly what you’re allergic to and then treat them specifically.
In addition to leaving you feeling miserable and worn out, if left untreated, seasonal allergies can result in sinus infection, sinus headache, gastrointestinal problems, breathing problems
After being inside for so many months, it’s good to get out in the sunshine and fresh air with other people. Treat your seasonal allergies and you’ll enjoy the big treat of being outside enjoying summer with friends and family.