Archive for Saturday, April 7, 2012

Area allergy specialist offers tips for surviving season

High pollen levels can make life miserable for allergy sufferers. Plants such as this dandelion along the Kansas River can be many people's worst enemy.

High pollen levels can make life miserable for allergy sufferers. Plants such as this dandelion along the Kansas River can be many people's worst enemy.

April 7, 2012, 6:00 a.m.

Updated: April 11, 2012, 12:00 a.m.

Achoo. Sniffle. Sniffle.

Allergy season arrived a few weeks earlier this year but it’s not as bad as it was a few years ago when pollen counts were 10 times higher than normal.

Dr. Warren Frick, of Asthma Allergy & Rheumatology Associates in Lawrence, described the season thus far as pretty typical but early. He said wind can make allergies worse, while rain will make them less severe.

His suggestions for helping to reduce symptoms include:

• Avoid the outdoor activities in the mornings when pollen counts are highest.

• Keep windows and the indoors closed.

• Run central air system fan so it pulls air through the filter and can help filter out pollen.

• Bathe pets. If your pets spend a lot of time outdoors, bathe them if you are going to let them in.

• Try over-the-counter eye drops and antihistamines like Allegra, Zyrtec and Claritin. “If that’s not cutting it, patients should seek prescription medicine where there’s many more options,” Frick said.

Hy-Vee pharmacist Cody Poell said he has seen allergy sufferers earlier this season too, and some have mistaken the symptoms as a cold.

“A lot of people think they have colds because they’ve got that nasal drainage that drips down the back of their throat, but a lot of times it’s just the allergies. They just kicked in so early,” he said.

Frick said allergy symptoms include: itchy, watery, swollen, red eyes; a runny, stuffy, itchy nose; sneezing; itchy throat; itching deep in the ear; and coughing. He said it’s allergies when nasal discharge is clear and the symptoms last longer than a few days or a week. Colds typically involve fevers or chills and allergies do not.

Spring allergies are a result of pollen from trees which can start pollinating between January and April. The trees that are causing allergies in the area now are juniper, elm, mulberry, maple and ash.

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