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The Dansville Online
  • Got a Minute? Dealing with seasonal allergies

  • Even though many of us can’t wait for the spring and summer months to arrive, there are those who dread the warmer months. The reason? Seasonal allergies.

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  • Even though many of us can’t wait for the spring and summer months to arrive, there are those who dread the warmer months. The reason? Seasonal allergies. I can’t tell you the number of people I know who, in the last few weeks, have been plagued by severe allergy symptoms.
    Allergies arise when the body overreacts to something in the environment that wouldn’t bother most people. These allergens cover the spectrum from foods to pollens to dust to latex to household product and cosmetic additives. This article will focus on outdoor environmental allergies, as that seems to be what is making so many folks miserable this time of year.
    How do you know if you have allergies? Common symptoms include runny or stuffy nose, watery eyes, itchy nose, throat, eyes, and roof the mouth, sneezing, pressure in the nose and cheeks, ear fullness and popping, dark circles under the eyes, and possibly hives.
    In spring, the allergens floating around tend to be from tree pollens. Summer brings the grass and weed pollens, and fall finds the ragweed in full bloom. If you are suffering all season, you may have sensitivity to all these plant pollens.
    Mold is another common outdoor allergen. It can be found in rotting logs, hay, mulches, commercial peat moss, compost piles and leaf litter. Not good news for sneezing, snuffling, suffering gardeners out there. This allergy is usually worse during rainy weather. All these outdoor allergies can be made worse by windy conditions and humidity.
    The good news is that there are things you can do to lessen the effects of these allergens on your system. Shower before bedtime to wash off the pollens in your hair and on your skin. Avoid going outside on dry, windy days. Keep windows shut in your home and car and use the air conditioner. If you don’t have air conditioning, try to open only the windows on the least windy side of the house. For outdoor mold, you really just have to stay away from the source.
    There are some very good medicines available to help relieve allergy symptoms. Some are over-the-counter, and some are prescription. Antihistamines help reduce the sneezing, runny nose and itchy symptoms of allergies. These work best if taken before you are exposed to the offending irritants.
    Decongestants help get rid of the stuffy nose symptom. They come in pill form, nose drops, and nose sprays, and are best used for short periods of time. If you have high blood pressure, check with your doctor before taking a decongestant, as certain ones can raise blood pressure.
    Another nasal spray that can help if taken before exposure to the allergen is called cromolyn sodium. It may take 2 – 4 weeks to start working, and is available without a prescription.
    Page 2 of 2 -  If you have tried a few of these treatments and are still suffering, a visit to your health care provider may be in order. There are prescription-strength medicines that can be tried, and allergy skin testing may be an option, followed up with allergy shots to help desensitize the body to the irritating substances.
    Good luck, and I hope everyone can find a way to enjoy the outdoors this season, even in you are an allergy-sufferer.
     
    Pam Maxson is a health educator at Noyes Hospital in Dansville. If you have questions or suggestions for future articles she can be reached at pmaxson@noyes-hospital.org or 585-335-4327.
     

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