Watery eyes, sneezes and sniffles are some of the symptoms which allergy sufferers experience now that spring has come. This year the allergy season may be shorter than usual owing to the longer winter period, but because of the changing weather patterns, experts suggest that the symptoms may be worse.
The wet winter and the warm, dry spring may lead to a high pollen count this year. If this spring would not be dry pollen may have decreased. Dr. John Basso of Nyack Hospital in New York stated that the prolonged humidity in some regions in winter time hints at a bad season. This idea is also supported by the director of Translational Research in Allergy at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (Boston), Dr. Tanya Laidlaw.
Dr. Laidlaw declared that the trees which usually cause spring allergy symptoms (oak, maple, birch) will pollinate later than usual. This means that the season will probably be a few days or a week shorter than normal. She also draws attention to the fact that the pollen counts will be as high as other season or possibly higher than usual. Thus the days of symptoms could be more severe.
Taking all these into considerations, allergy sufferers are advised to be extra cautious in order to keep healthy. Dr. Laidlaw recommends using anti-allergies one week before the trees begin pollinating and also suggests the use of an oral antihistamine or over-the-counter intranasal steroids.
Dr. Laura Mechanic of White Plains Hospital is also of the opinion that allergy sufferers should not wait for the peak of the pollens distribution to occur to take medicine. She explains that it is a good thing to start earlier because you have the armamentarium ready to protect you. In addition, the medicine will be more effective and the allergy sufferers will feel a lot better. Those who wait longer to take medication will suffer more and will have to take more medicine for a longer period of time.
Dr. Russell Leong of California Pacific Medical Center suggests that it is also important for allergy sufferers to keep away from allergy carriers. He argues that although patients are warned to avoid pollen, to stay inside and to use air conditioning instead of opening the windows in their house, the weather is so nice that it is hard for people to remain indoors.
Dr. Mauli Desai, assistant professor of medicine in the Division of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (Mount Sinai Hospital) has been specializing in this field since 2009. She also recommends those who had allergies in the past to prepare before the season goes into full swing.
About 10 to 30 percent of adults are affected by allergies in the US. Dr. Desai treats people with full spectrum of allergic diseases. She explained that the irritation and inflammation of the nose caused by the allergens in the environment are called allergic rhinitis or seasonal allergies. Some of the patients experience even asthma symptoms, she adds.
When the immune system over-reacts to the particles in the air allergic rhinitis occurs. Dr. Desai explains that our immune system normally protects us from the bacteria and viruses in the environment. But in the case of people who suffer from allergies, their immune system produces antibodies by fighting things which represent no harm for the body. For example when people who are allergic at tree pollen breathe air containing such particles, the immune system recognize it and release chemicals such as histamine which cause inflammation everywhere the allergen got in contact with: airways, throat, nose, eyes.
The most common signs of seasonal allergies are stuffiness, sneezing, nasal congestion, itchy and watery eyes. However there are also some subtle signs such as poor quality of sleep, inability to concentrate on what you are doing, irritability and fatigue.
The most important thing when it comes to treating allergies is to find out what exactly is the patient allergic to. There are a lot of people who do not know for sure what they are allergic to. A specific diagnostic can be obtained through a scratch test in only 20 minutes: different allergens are placed on the patient’s skin and this answers the question.
Dr. Desai says that researchers are continually working on improving allergy treatments. Recently FDA (US Food and Drug Administration) has approved a new type of immunotherapy named sublingual therapy. All you have to do is to dissolve a tablet containing the allergen, under the tongue every day. Right now this kind of therapy is available only for two allergens: ragweed and grass.
Finally, Dr. Desai says that there are various types of medicine which can be found these days. She advises patients to try and find a tailored plan together with their doctors. She explains that sometimes the best way to treat allergies is to find the right combination of treatments.
Image Source: Huffington Post