Coping with seasonal allergies

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— Your eyes are itching and your nose alternates between running and stopping up. You have repeated fits of sneezing and at times a feeling of tightness in the chest. You just feel miserable.

If you know you have allergies, you know why you are in such physical distress. You see the "cotton" flying in the air and that's your signal that it is allergy season.

But maybe you have never suffered from allergies before. This could be your first experience with "hay fever." You are certainly not alone.

Local physicians report their phones are ringing off the hook this summer. Patients are complaining, "My allergies are killing me!" We seem to be experiencing worse allergy problems in the Yampa Valley than in previous years, and people are desperate to find relief.

It is not the cotton from the trees that is causing your affliction, but rather the tiny, invisible pollens from grasses that are blooming at this time of year. You actually can see the flowers of the grasses when you look at their "heads," especially the pretty purple Timothy grass. The wind blows the tiny pollen grains for many miles until they eventually land in your eyes, nose and bronchial tubes.

So what can you do, other than start praying for an early snowfall? Call your doctor if your current medicine does not help much or if you aren't currently using any medication. Any primary care physician can prescribe medications for allergies.

Especially if you have some difficulty in breathing, a troublesome cough or wheezing, it's best to see your doctor right away. Your chest symptoms could be asthma, a common companion of hay fever.

In years past, doctors would often give a cortisone shot to allergy sufferers, but nowadays we have better and safer options. These include a number of prescription nose sprays, eye drops and inhalers that can quickly bring symptoms under control. You may have to take medicine every day until your allergy season comes to an end.

There also are some effective and safe over-the-counter medicines available in the drug store or pharmacy such as loratidine pills, cromolyn nasal spray and ketotifen eye drops. I suggest you talk to your registered pharmacist.

If you have severe, recurrent hay fever or your symptoms get worse from year to year, consider allergy testing and immunotherapy (allergy shots). It is important to know exactly what you are allergic to. Allergy shots stimulate your immune system to build up a tolerance to pollens. This is the only current treatment that can reduce your allergies in the long haul.

For more information check out the American Foundation of Allergy and Asthma, a nonprofit organization and resource center on the Web at www.aafa.org. It does not promote or sell any specific products.

Take care of your allergies and enjoy the summer and the great outdoors!

Roswitha Moehring, M.D., is a board-certified allergist who has practiced in Steamboat Springs for more than 20 years.

Comments

dundalk 6 years, 9 months ago

Madmoores: As to the bee pollen. I have known 3 people who ran into moderate to severe reactions to the bee pollen. I suppose that there are more mild reactions as well.

I believe that those who's tolerance is bees is severe would more than likely have the same reaction to pollen.

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Neil O'Keeffe 6 years, 9 months ago

A typical western approach to treating the symptoms with shots and pharmaceuticals, "when your only tool is a hammer..." Not a single mention of all the natural and safe alternatives to help with allergy symptoms. Is this the type of physician you would choose?

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madmoores 6 years, 9 months ago

Two things have worked for me, one natural, one not:

  1. Bee Pollen capsules. Sounds wierd to take pollen to combat pollen-type allergies but for the longest time in my youth it worked very well. I asume it has something to do with antibodies. Unfortunatly this method has not worked for me in my adult years(stopped working around age 17). Why? Got me. Can usually be found at your local health food store IF they are still available(long time since I was 17).

  2. Claritin. Very pricey but has worked wonders for me this season where nothing else has. I have been taking this OTC med. for quite awhile now, even before it became OTC. Used to take plain old red Sudafed but it never really worked much at all. One tiny Claritin tablet in the morning and I am free for 24 hours. Absolutely NO symptoms at all when taking it. I ran out one weekend in June while away and suffered until I could get somewhere to buy some. Proof it works.

I have recurrent, seasonal hayfever(red swollen eyes, heavy nasal drip, uncontrollable sneezing, junky lungs, head feels like a bowling ball)and have had it since I was very young. Everybody is different and responds to medications in a variety of ways. It all boils down to trial and error, keep trying stuff until you find something that works. Going to the doctor for an allergy is like going in for pain, it is a very broad and general area with a plethora of remedies and will only hurt your wallet in the end run. Hope those suffering find relief soon.

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dundalk 6 years, 9 months ago

Madmoores:

YIKES! Watch out about advising folks to bee pollen. If someone has an allergy to bees, bee pollen is the worst thing you want to take.

Chlortrimaton is an OTC drug which works well with the common allergies we see here in the valley. You can ask the pharmacist to point out the generic brand as the name brand is a bit pricey.

The final solution to allergies...lets all head south to British Virgin Islands, drink mint juleps and lounge on a chaise!

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aristocat 6 years, 9 months ago

if you are a honey partaker, use honey that is from your area and it will "naturally" work on your allergies!

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madmoores 6 years, 9 months ago

Thanks Dundalk, that is why I stated this in my post:

"Everybody is different and responds to medications in a variety of ways."

You are right as to being cautious to bee allergens. Is the sting the same as the pollen though?

Do like the "head south" idea though. My choice would be good ol' beer(no schlitz though).

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