We all look forward to spring, with the warming days, the increased daylight, the daffodils and crocuses, the tulips blooming and the trees budding. It’s beautiful, isn’t it? That is, unless you suffer from seasonal allergies.
Seasonal allergy symptoms include sneezing, itchy and runny nose, and nasal stuffiness. Other symptoms include itching to the throat and upper mouth and ears. Also, eyes that itch and tear and possibly burn. Do your coworkers ask why you are crying all the time? This attack on your immune system can cause overall fatigue and malaise. Your sleep can be disturbed from the nasal stuffiness, adding to that overall feeling of being run down.
You may say, but I’ve never had allergies before. The body can be continuously exposed to a certain allergen causing persistent inflammation and over time the body becomes increasingly more sensitive to lower and lower doses of the allergen and to other allergens. It may take several years of exposure to the allergen for symptoms to develop.
So, what can we do? I think of a two-pronged treatment approach.
- Keep the windows closed in the house and in the car. I realize this is hard in our area, as most of us do not have air conditioning and we love the cool night air. But if you can, close up and keep the pollen out.
- Change clothes after coming home from work and school. Pollen collects on clothing and it helps to keep it from collecting all over the rugs and furniture.
- Shower at night, and wash to get pollen off. This will keep the bed sheets clean and help prevent you from breathing pollen in.
- Utilizing a nasal saline spray to the nose or a neti-pot to help wash the pollen from the nasal airways can also be helpful.
- Nasal Steroid Sprays are most effective for symptomatic relief. Over-the-counter preparations include Flonase, Rhinocort or Nasacort. At a local pharmacy, Flonase is running about $42 and the store brand is running $15. Same medication, different packaging. Need I say more? Remember, these do not start working immediately and you may need a week lead time for symptom relief.
- Oral antihistamines can be added to the nasal steroid sprays. Again, look for the less expensive store brand.
- Finally, if the symptoms persist, see your primary care provider. Allergy testing and immunotherapy may be an option.
For more Information:
I like the website, pollen.com. You plug in your city or town and get information on the pollen counts and the different allergens in the area. When I wrote this article in mid-April, the pollen counts for Flagstaff were high and the allergens included Juniper, Mulberry and Poplar.
My nose and eyes could have told you that. FBN
Mary Porvaznik M.D.
Flagstaff Family Care serves both Flagstaff and Sedona. Call 928-527-4325 for an appointment or go to FlagFamilyCare.com and book an appointment online.