Spring is in the air! And so are billions of tiny pollen that trigger allergy symptoms! As the weather warms up, trees start releasing pollen to reproduce. For an allergy sufferer, the best time to start treating seasonal allergies is before allergy symptoms become worse and severe. Although Spring officially begins on March 20th, allergy symptoms usually start earlier. Trees have already started pollinating, so it benefits you to start taking your prescription allergy medications at least two weeks before your symptoms normally appear. Allergy symptoms entail sneezing, stuffy nose, runny nose, watery and itchy eyes, dark circles under the eyes, and itchy nose and mouth.
It is important to note that a mild winter can cause early release of pollen from certain trees. Now that the immune system has been primed and even if the weather turns cold again before turning warm, the allergic inflammation process has started and allergy symptoms may not be alleviated by colder weather.
Tree pollen can appear as early as February and last until May. Right now, the weather has slightly warmed and the current tree pollen counts are low to medium and tend to be higher on sunnier and warmer days. The pollen count will rise as the weather gets warmer and we progress further into Spring. Tree pollen peaks in April. As tree pollen season declines, grass pollen season begins, and grass pollen allergies occur later in the Spring and can last until Summer.
Not every allergy sufferer has the same set of allergic responses, so you need to treat your allergies according to your symptoms. While over the counter medications may be able to control allergy symptoms, many individuals may benefit from seeing a board certified allergist who can diagnose exactly what you’re allergic to, in order to create a personal treatment plan.
Ways to minimize allergen exposure are to avoiding spending time outdoors from 5AM to 10AM when pollen counts tend to be the highest, by keeping windows closed and showering before jumping into bed to wash the pollen off of your hair and body. These mentioned lifestyle modifications aid in minimizing allergen exposure, but most times medication is necessary. There is an array of oral and nasal allergy medications available both over the counter and by prescription that make living with allergies manageable.
Allergen immunotherapy, better known as allergy shots is another option. Unlike allergy medications, allergen immunotherapy alters the disease course, which provides a more permanent solution. Allergy shots involve the administration of gradually increasing quantities of specific allergens which in turn reduces the response to the allergic triggers that precipitate the symptoms. Although it is a long term therapy, it is safe and effective. Allergen immunotherapy is also a great treatment option for allergic asthma, stinging insect hypersensitivity, and atopic dermatitis.