What to do when allergies bother you

Cleaning may aggravate allergies short-term, but provides longer relief

Staff writer

Spring is here, and while the season brings much anticipated warmer temperatures, it also brings back allergies.

For those afflicted with allergies, spring can be especially rough because of all the pollen in the air from plants budding and blooming. As bodies work to build up tolerance, there are things people can do to help ward off allergies, Dr. Paige Hatcher of St. Luke Physicians Clinic said.

She said the first step to treating any allergies is knowing what your allergies are. Hatcher recommends getting allergy testing, especially for patients with other respiratory problems such as asthma.

“If you’re allergic to dust or pollen, there isn’t much cure because they are things you can’t really avoid,” she said.

She said those allergies, the kind that are inflamed this time of year, are not serious as much as they are annoying, but there are some things residents can do to lessen their effects.

Hatcher said HEPA air filters help circulate air in homes and remove allergens from the air.

“Nasal saline flushes, though uncomfortable, can help with allergies by flushing out your nasal passageways,” she said. “It can also prevent people from getting sinus infections.”

Other things that can help reduce allergens in homes can include cleaning out vents. Hatcher said these methods are a double-edged swords because they temporarily release allergens into the air.

“It’s a good idea,” she said. “But if you do clean things do it with the windows open, wear a mask, and step outside every once in awhile,” she said.

She said home remedies like drinking elderberry wine or eating locally made honey, have been proven to help with allergies.

“There are some theories using these things are like getting an allergy shot,” she said. “They help your body fight allergens later on because it has a little dose of pollen in them that the body can manage.”

She said the tricky part is knowing what doses are affective because they haven’t been studied as extensively as pharmaceuticals.

Another helpful tool for those inflicted with pollen allergies is a daily pollen count published by the National Weather Service.

“It’s a great tool for people to use to plan their days,” she said. “During days with high pollen counts, wear a mask and limit outdoor exposure.”

Hatcher also advised that even though the weather was getting nicer, to not forget about the potential to catch the flu.

“We’ve seen a resurgence of flu cases this week,” she said.

She said due to a severely cold and harsh winter, flu season was particularly hard in Marion County as well, with several patients testing positive for the H1N1 strain.

“This is a different type of flu, so those who haven’t had the flu yet are still susceptible, but those who have had the flu already cannot get it again,” she said.

Tips to stay flu free include washing hands often, and staying home if feeling ill or have a fever.

Unlike colds, flu symptoms are not gradual and often hit people quickly and extremely.

“If you have flu symptoms, see a doctor within the first two days of being ill to get medication,” she said.

She also recommended those who feel ill to stay home to prevent the spread of the virus.

 

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