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June 25, 2019

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Weekend doctor: Allergies in pollen season

By Maria Slack, MD
ENT & Allergy Specialists of Northwest Ohio
For those with pollen allergies, sneezing, itching, cough, stuffy nose and sleepless nights often come with the onset of spring. In Ohio, the allergy pollen season starts in the very early spring and lasts most of the year until the first frost, which is a long time for those suffering from seasonal allergies. Fortunately, there are many options available to help allergy sufferers. The adjustments a person can make range from changes in the environment to improving the way your body recognizes or tolerates allergens through allergy immunotherapy (traditionally known as “allergy shots”) or sublingual immunotherapy (oral allergy tablets).

To reduce exposure, try taking the following steps:

  • Limit outdoor activity between 5 and 10 a.m., which is when pollen levels are highest.
  • Keep windows closed at night and use air conditioning when needed.
  • Keep an eye on air quality levels and limit time outdoors during poor air quality days.
  • Check the pollen count to know what pollen is outside.
  • Take a shower and change clothes when you come home after being outdoors.

Although these changes may help, they may not make enough impact on exposure to relieve symptoms.

For those who suspect that they may have allergies to pollen or other allergens in the environment, allergy testing is the most accurate way to discover sensitivities and contributions to your symptoms. With modern medicine and techniques, allergy testing can be completed safely by a scratch (also known as a “prick”) of the skin with a liquid allergy extract or a blood test. Based on this information, an allergist can help you determine what treatment would be a good fit for you.

There are many over-the-counter and prescription allergy medications available that individuals may use if recommended by their physician. These medicines can help reduce a person’s symptoms and provide some relief during the allergy season. Allergists may even recommend allergy or sublingual immunotherapy. These treatments are administered over time and help the body tolerate allergens in the environment. Individuals often experience a reduced need for medications, improved symptoms and an overall better quality of life that lasts for the remainder of life after receiving these treatments.

When it comes to treating allergies, one size does not fit all. Involving your health care provider and/or allergist in your care will help get you on the right track to finding the treatment that works best for you.