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Allergy Season is Here
April 6, 2021
By Benjamin Stepp, MD, Family Medicine Physician
You know what they say: April showers bring May flowers. But they also bring pollen, ragweed and a slew of other wheeze-, sneeze-, and sniffle-inducing allergens. At Haywood Regional Medical Center, we’re committed to making communities healthier, and one way we do that is by helping you manage your springtime allergies.
First of all, what causes springtime sniffling and sneezing? According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI), allergies develop when the body’s immune system becomes sensitized and overreacts to something in the environment that does not cause a reaction in most people. For an estimated 40 million Americans, that “something” is often one of Mother Nature’s springtime gifts -- ragweed, pollen, grass and mold, to name a few.
While some won’t notice the increase in common allergens, others will be left with a number of unpleasant side effects, such as:
- Itching of the eyes, nose or roof of the mouth
- Runny nose, nasal congestion
- Watery, red or swollen eyes
- Occasionally, allergies may also cause a sore throat, cough, or fatigue and weakness
If you find yourself in the latter category, there are a number of ways to manage your symptoms and ease your suffering.
Know your triggers. The ACAAI says more than two-thirds of spring allergy sufferers actually have year-round symptoms, just not as prevalent. A primary care physician or pediatrician can help you determine what is triggering you or your child’s allergy attacks and develop a care plan to minimize your symptoms.
Watch the weather. The web site: www.pollen.com provides a daily/weekly pollen and mold count for your zip code. Keeping an eye on this report can help you know what to expect when you head outdoors, as well as if there are certain days or times you should avoid going outside.
Hit the shower. As simple as it sounds, taking a shower, washing your hair and changing your clothes after outdoor activities helps minimize exposure to allergens.
Defend yourself. If you know you are going to be outdoors for extended periods, or doing activities like mowing the lawn, consider wearing a mask to reduce the amount of allergens you inhale. You may also consider taking appropriate, over-the-counter medications before you head outside.
Keep an eye on your symptoms. During the COVID-19 pandemic, it may be difficult to tell the difference between COVID-19 and allergies (or the flu or a common cold). Check out this resource from the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America for helpful charts to assess your symptoms.
If these tricks don’t provide the relief you need, talk to your primary care doctor or pediatrician. He or she can help you develop a more thorough care management plan, which may include support from an allergist. If you don’t have a primary care doctor or pediatrician, visit www.MyHaywoodRegional.com and use our Physician Finder to select a physician who best meets your needs or call 800.424.DOCS (3627).