Tips on managing indoor, outdoor allergies

ALICE ORTIZ/BUY PHOTOS AT MONROECOUNTYJOURNAL.COMDr. Gerald Parker logs on to the medical system to check information on a chart.

AMORY – Allergy season is upon us and many people are suffering the effects of pollen with sneezing, itching eyes, runny nose, coughing, etc.

Nasal allergy symptoms can be triggered by indoor (year-round) or outdoor (seasonal) allergens. Knowing which allergens you react to can help you and your physician make a plan for limiting your exposure and, hopefully, your symptoms.

There are ways of identifying your allergens. Indoor nasal allergy symptoms can persist year-round and are caused by indoor allergens like mold, dust mites, cockroaches and animal dander. These allergens can be present in pillows and bedding, draperies, upholstery, thick carpeting, on clothing, on pets and in moist areas of your home like bathrooms and basements.

Outdoor nasal allergy symptoms are very common and are usually caused by allergens that appear at specific times of the year, with some variation due to weather. In the spring, tree pollens are a common trigger. From late spring to summer, grasses enter the scene. Weed pollens, including ragweed, start becoming a problem for some people in the summer, and peak in the fall. Finally, throughout the year in many states, but especially after a spring thaw, outdoor mold spores are a trigger. Outdoor molds are very common, found in soil, some mulches, fallen leaves and rotting wood.

It's possible to be affected by more than one allergen of either or both types.

Personal healthcare providers are able to pinpoint what patients are allergic to, and will advise the best ways to treat nasal allergy symptoms.

Amory physician, Dr. Gerald Parker of CarePlus Family Medicine, said there were several things people could do to help make allergies more manageable.

“In the spring, the trees pollute the air, in summer it is grass and in the fall, we have the weeds,” he said. “Using a nasal spray can help alleviate some of the problems and make them easier to handle. Start taking antihistamine at the very beginning of the season will help.”

There are ways that hay fever differentiates from a cold or the flu. Hay fever lasts for several weeks, which is longer than a cold or the flu. It does not cause fever. The nasal discharge from hay fever is thin, watery and clear, while nasal discharge from a cold or the flu tends to be thicker. Itchy eyes, nose, mouth, throat and skin is common with hay fever, but not with a cold or the flu. Sneezing is more prevalent with hay fever.

Parker also said dust mites and mold can cause allergic reactions.

“After being closed up in the house more over the winter, the dust mites and molds are more common.”

Some of the ways to avoid allergens and help prevent allergic reactions are to shower or bathe before bed to get pollen off body; reduce mold by removing houseplants; and frequently cleaning damp areas with a mixture of water and chlorine bleach.

Other tips include opening doors and windows and using fans to increase air movement; using a dehumidifier; reducing pet dander by using allergen-resistant bedding; bathing pets frequently; and using an air filter.

Replacing carpets with linoleum or wood is another way to reduce allergies. Polished floors are best. Mop floors frequently with damp mop and wipe surfaces with damp cloth.

Avoiding allergens and taking an antihistamine can be an effective way to handle the allergies, but if that doesn't work then a radioallergosorbent (RAST) test can determine which allergens are causing the reaction.

“If after taking preventive steps in avoiding allergens, see your physician,” said Parker. “Allergy shots can reduce your reaction to allergens resulting in fewer or less severe symptoms.”

To check the pollen allergy forecast for your area, go to www.pollen.com, put in your zip code, and it will give a five-day forecast.

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