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Spring Allergy Survival Guide

Tips for a more enjoyable spring!

All over the Carolinas, trees have awakened from their winter slumber with beautiful blooms and of course pollens. Let's not get too upset at the trees they are just trying to survive. Heavy pollens are mainly nuisance creating the golden yellow coating on cars and outdoor surfaces. Other tree pollens are small enough and light enough to become airborne allergens which are the culprits in the watery, itchy and sneezy symptoms we know as allergic rhinitis.

A pollen particle enters the body and is labeled as an invader. The immune system which is designed to protect you responds by producing IgE antibodies which are specific to that particular pollen. Think of antibodies as little soldiers armed and ready to attack whenever a threat arises. With repeat exposure to the pollen, those preformed IgE antibodies attach to cells in the body known as mast cells and cause them to release histamine. The histamine then causes the itchy and watery eyes, sneezing, stuffy nose, scratchy throat, hives and even difficulty breathing.

Most spring allergens are not life threatening but can create a number of miserable days. Here are a few things you can do for symptom relief short of living in a bubble.

Check the Pollen Count

It is usually part of the local weather report and is available anytime when you visit our website.

Keep Doors and Windows Closed

It is beautiful and warm outside but don’t ride around with the car windows down or with the top down on the convertible (if you have one). Keep windows closed at home.

Wear Protective Gear

100% UV wraparound sunglasses not only protect your eyes from damaging UVA and UVB rays they provide a barrier on windy days to reduce pollen exposure to your eyes.

Tree pollens will eventually settle in the grass so light mask should be used when outdoors mowing the grass. Once finished with outdoor activities washing hair/showering will also reduce exposure.

Treat Your Allergies

There are a number of over the counter medications, antihistamines and nasal steroid sprays, now available to help with symptom control. If allergy symptoms persist you should seek consultation with your doctor to determine if additional prescription medication would be beneficial.

In-office evaluation may identify certain environmental factors as well as anatomic abnormalities which may contribute to symptoms. Your doctor may suggest environmental restrictions as well as allergy testing to find the specific allergen that is causing discomfort.

In some situations, allergy shots or sublingual immunotherapy (allergy drops under the tongue) may be recommended. Immunotherapy is a method of treating allergies by reducing your sensitivity to certain allergens. Immunotherapy creates blocking antibodies, IgG, to counter the preformed IgE antibodies that are on alert for the allergens. It does require treatment for a period of time to build up these IgG antibodies offering the best opportunity to cure you of your allergies.

ENT doctors are specially trained in the diagnosis and management of allergies.