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Ask Dr. Nandi: Hello to spring and seasonal allergies

Research finds climate change is making allergy season worse
Posted at 3:47 PM, Mar 20, 2023
and last updated 2023-03-20 17:23:56-04

(WXYZ) — In today’s Health Alert, spring has finally arrived. Soon, flowers will bloom and the trees will bud. But not everyone welcomes the warmer season. Because for millions of Americans with allergies, spring can be a time of misery.

I know the pain of seasonal allergies and so do many of my patients. It’s not just the sniffles and sneezes but also itchy, watery eyes, post-nasal drip, coughing, and congestion. For some people, allergies can really wipe them out and make them feel super tired. So they can really impact the quality of your life.

Now, what causes allergies? Well, an allergy occurs when your immune system comes into contact with a substance and overreacts to it. It sees it as an intruder. For instance, trees, grasses, and flowers begin to revive in the spring. And they release pollen into the air. A lot of pollen. And for some people, their bodies react to the pollen like it’s a threat. And chemicals like histamines and leukotrienes get released into the blood, which then causes the typical symptoms I mentioned earlier. Now, everyone’s reaction is different, and the severity of your symptoms depends on how much of a threat your body thinks the allergen is.

Of course, pollen isn’t the only trigger in spring. Rain is great for flowers and grass, but it can also lead to mold growth inside and outside your home. Plus, spring cleaning can stir up dust mites that live in house dust. Both of these are common triggers for allergic reactions as well.

As for what you can do, here are some tips:

  1. Limit time outside when pollen counts are high – usually in the mornings. Sunglasses and a hat can help keep pollen away from your eyes when out.
  2. Keep your windows closed so pollen doesn’t get inside. And use air conditioning in your home and your car.
  3. Wash your hands often with soap and water. And avoid touching or rubbing your nose.
  4. Clean or change your home air filters often. When cleaning, wearing a mask will help protect you from breathing in pollen, mold or dust.

Also, to help relieve symptoms, there are medications like antihistamines to help reduce sneezing, sniffling, and itching. And decongestants to relieve congestion and swelling. Eye drops can help with itchy eyes. There is also Immunotherapy. That’s when people are given doses of the substance they’re allergic to, which can help their immune system react less to it.

So there are solutions. The main thing is to not suffer in silence. Talk with your family physician. They may suggest allergy tests that can help identify what allergens you’re reacting to and prescribe medication to help get you through spring.