Tis the Season for Allergies: Combating Hay Fever
Updated: Apr 30
Southern Nevada has had an unseasonably rainy winter and spring. And when it rains, you can expect an abundance of desert blooms to pesky weeds, leading many individuals to suffer from seasonal allergies or hay fever.
Seasonal allergies, also known as allergic rhinitis, is due to both the vast amounts of pollen from trees, grasses, weeds and flowers as well as Southern Nevada's windy springtime. When March winds blow trashcans and pollen around, you can expect people to be reaching from the antihistamines and tissue box.
Approximately 60 million people in the United States suffer from allergies and spring and summer tend to be the worst times. Allergic reactions occur when the body's immune system ramps up to protect itself with chemicals called histamines. This is why allergic symptoms tend to cause stuffed and/or runny noses, weepy eyes, dry coughs, sore throats and sinus headaches. Some have minor symptoms while others feel like they have the flu from March to October. Further complicating the issue is our dry climate.
Sometimes there's so much pollen in the air you can see it. Chances are you've either had to wipe off a thin layer of yellow “dust” that collects on everything from your clothes to your car. In fact, allergies are such a nuisance that years ago some cities outlawed the planting of particularly bothersome allergy producers like mulberry trees but there's no avoiding allergies altogether.
Southern Nevadans' biggest allergy irritants include:
• Olive tree pollen
• Juniper tree pollen
• Conifer (pine tree) pollen
While hay fever can put a damper on summertime fun, there are methods to help quell allergies. They include:
Close your homes windows and use the A/C: While you might want to let that cool springtime breeze through, it carries with it microscopic pollens that attach to window coverings, fabrics and surfaces.
Wash your hair and/or clothing frequently: Environmental exposure to pollens can occur in the few minutes it takes to walk to the mailbox so imagine how much clings to you while you're commuting to work or at the kids' soccer games? Frequent washing reduces allergens.
Consider a humidifier: Adding some cool or warm mist whilst sleeping can add soothing moisture to your nose and mouth environment.
Speak to your healthcare provider about local bee pollen: Since local bees cultivate from the area's flora, their honey contains what amounts to micro doses of allergens. This gradual exposure is believed to help reduce allergy symptoms in many. While it takes time, it's a more natural approach to treatment.
Kenalog shot: Many IMS patients come in for a Kenalog steroid shot when allergies are bothering them. Sometimes a person needs one annually while others benefit from two or more to keep the allergies at-bay.
Antihistamines: Antihistamines such as Benadryl, Claritin, Zyrtec are available over-the-counter (OTC) and stop the histamine cascade that causes runny noses, etc. They can be taken to reduce symptoms though you may have to try different kinds to avoid drowsiness or agitation that can occasionally occur.
Steroid Sprays: Because inflammation causes clogged noses or puffy eyes, the use of steroid sprays can be a game changer for many. Many of these are available over the counter such as Flonase and Rhinocort, while others are prescription-only. Ask your provider what is best for you including the use of a nasal irrigation (Neti pot) for rinsing sinuses with salt water (saline).
Allergy Specialist: When allergies impede on quality of life, it's time to ask your healthcare provider for assistance and possibly seek the expertise of an allergy provider. An allergist can run a number of tests including allergy testing and shots to determine which irritants are causing you the most discomfort and sensitizing you to them through exposure or immunotherapy. This provider can also prescribe a number of medications from oral medications like Montelukast to latest generation steroid sprays like Dymista. Often a last effort includes surgery of the sinus in those suffering from chronic sinusitis.
Spring and summertime are intended to be full of vacations, school breaks and BBQs, but if seasonal allergies are threatening your plans, it's time to explore the many treatment options available. Not sure where to start? Schedule your appointment with one of our capable Internal Medicine Specialists today!