Help for Allergy Sufferers

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By Gayle A. Roberts, CNP, MSN, RN

May 7, 2014

“Ah, Choo,” God Bless You!”  Allergies 

               A friend recently called to tell me she had a runny nose and itchy, watery eyes. She asked, “Could I have allergies?” My answer was yes. Allergies are increasingly common today due to the warming climate (hard to believe after this winter in Ohio) that increases the growth of weeds and trees so much that it is no longer just a condition people get as children. Adults are getting allergies too. About 10% of the population has allergies, and they are more common in young boys and women.

                Allergies occur year-round but are more frequent during the spring and fall. Indoor allergies also occur, mostly from dust and pet dander. Seasonal allergy symptoms can include itchy and watery eyes, runny nose, sore throat, a post-nasal drip (mucous going down the back of the throat), sneezing, stuffy nose from congestion, rashes, itchy skin and occasional wheezing when breathing. Fever is not a symptom of allergies and may indicate a more serious illness. Usually allergy symptoms are worse when outdoors. Asthma can be a severe complication of allergies.

                Springtime allergies are caused by growing grass, tree pollen, weeds and molds that grow under leaves left on the ground from the previous fall. In the fall, ragweed is the main cause of many allergies.

                Allergists (those who specialize in treating allergies) have noted that pollen counts (the measure of pollen in the air) have increased every year, causing more people to have allergy problems, including those who’ve never experienced allergies before. Pollen actually blankets the air much like smoke from a fire.

                Weather can affect allergies. Symptoms can increase before and after rain falls. Before it rains, pollen is released into the air. When pollen gets wet, it swells and bursts into the air. Rain, however, can wash some allergens out of the air. Pollen also increases during windy days, periods of dryness, humidity and in the afternoon.

                Thankfully, there are effective ways to decrease allergy symptoms. Pollen counts can be found for your area on www.webmd.com and also on your favorite weather channel or weather website. When pollen counts are high, close windows and stay inside if possible. Use air conditioning or a fan to circulate air in your home. Be sure your heating and cooling units have a good air filter and remember to clean or replace it often.

                When outdoors, wear a hat and sunglasses to prevent pollen from getting into your hair and eyelashes. Wearing pants and long sleeves will limit exposure too. It’s also a good idea to shower every night to remove any pollen, and avoid pollen when you can.

                If your allergy symptoms are severe, talk to your healthcare provider about which over-the -counter medications or other treatments could help you. The providers at Trinity Medical Group are able to help you control your allergy symptoms.

                If you have allergies, the good news is that you do not need to suffer. Help is available by following these tips and with the guidance of your healthcare provider. Happy glorious, sneeze-free spring to you!

Gayle A. Roberts, CNP, MSN, RN is a retired nurse practitioner and college nursing professor who volunteers for Trinity Hospital Twin City.


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