Dr. Douglas Anderson, ENT Ogden Clinic says the major culprits for spring allergies are trees. Maple, Box Elder, Cottonwood, Birch, Oak, Walnut and Juniper are all common offenders in Utah.
Molds can be present in areas of moisture and dampness such as around bathroom fixtures, leaky pipes or moisture around foundations all year round. Dust mites typically like warmer, more humid climates, but can be found in homes with lots of carpet, draperies, fabric-covered furniture, stuffed animals, and in mattresses that aren't sealed. Grasses are the common culprits in the summer and weeds are in the fall (usually until November).
So, how can you tell if you are suffering from allergies rather than a cold? Dr. Anderson says both allergy and cold sufferers can have stuffy or congested noses, runny noses and sneezing. However, usually only allergy sufferers have itchy eyes. Allergy sufferers also typically don’t have fevers like cold sufferers do. Cold sufferers also more often have headaches, dizziness and hoarseness, while allergy sufferers can have those symptoms but not always. Colds can last 3-14 days where as allergies usually only last while one is exposed to the allergen.
Allergies can exacerbate people who have asthma because some of the asthma is IgE mediated, which is the antibody that interacts with the allergen. Asthma can be affected or exacerbated by stress, infection, allergies, extremes in temperature and irritants such as smoke or chemicals.
People can suddenly develop seasonal allergies as an adult, even if they didn't have allergies as a child, because of later exposure.
Avoidance of the offending allergen is the best way to treat allergies. There are also many medicines that may help prevent or decrease symptoms. Those include cromalyn, Leukotriene inhibitors, antihistamines, steroids and/or nasal steroid sprays. Dr. Anderson recommends having OTC antihistamines, epi-pens, Benadryl and steroids on hand. But if you have symptoms that are affecting quality of life and are not well controlled by over-the-counter medicines, you should see a doctor. Also if symptoms cause other illness (asthma flare-ups, sinus and/or ear infections or eczema) or when allergic reactions become quite serious and life threatening (anaphylaxix), get immediate help.
There are things you can be doing to decrease allergens in the home. Dr. Anderson recommends vacuuming carpets two times a week and he suggests using a vacuum with a hepafilter attachment. Also, wash bed sheets and covers once a week in hot water and use a drier to dry. Regularly clean bathroom areas with bleach to prevent mold. Avoid excessive wall-to-wall carpeting or excessive draperies. Change furnace filters once a month. Use mattress covers designed to seal out dust mites. Avoid placing excessive stuffed animals on the bed. Use metal or wooden bed frames and keep the mattress and box springs off the floor. Don't sleep on couches. Avoid wood burning stoves or Kerosene heaters. Cover furnace outlets with special allergy filters. And, avoid wool or down blankets.
Seasonal allergies can start appearing in kids after age 3. Allergies can be associated with eczema, with ear infections and with nasal and sinus infections. Also allergies can be associated with snoring and sleep disorders. Often if allergies are not treated effectively early on many patients will go on to develop asthma. So early identification and treatment may prevent asthma in children.
For more information, please visit: Ogden Clinic.