Spring and Summer Allergies
Nicki Nair, M.D.Allergist
It's warmer and sunnier and winter is behind you. There is twenty percent of the population who doesn’t like it because they have to worry about if they go outside, could they open their windows, could they go to a softball game without coming home miserable. Those are the issues that people with springtime allergies face.
How do allergies develop?
There are two criteria to develop allergies. You have to have a genetic predisposition and then you have to have an adequate exposure. If it’s a pet allergy, or a dust mite allergy, or a mold allergy, then these are present only when around. Those are the things that younger kids will get sensitized to. If it’s pollen sensitivity you need at least a three year exposure and most pollen will bloom six to twelve weeks of the year.
What are the common signs and symptoms of allergies?
Itchy eyes, runny nose, itching on the roof of the mouth, children are rubbing their noses all the time, they are sneezing. Patients have described this to me over the years in different ways. There are people who will say “I sound like an old person. I’m sneezing away. I come home congested. I look like I’ve been to a bar and I didn’t do anything.” So that’s what happens. Then they get this runny nose. Then they get congested and have a sensation of pressure in the sinuses. They have difficulty sleeping. They will often start coughing.
What are the common allergens in the spring and summer?
Well you start with the tree pollen season. Then you have the grasses to deal with and they tend to start blooming end of April and the first part of May and they go on until the end of June and sometimes the end of July and early August. What can be done to help avoid the allergens? If you know you have allergies try to keep the environment under control. Keep your doors and windows closed. Run the air conditioner. Make sure the furnace filters are cleaned out. Also, try to find out what you are allergic to. Don’t go out during really windy days because the wind can carry pollen from miles away. Find out what you are allergic to. Find out what your enemies are and what your strong points and weak points are and then you adjust your activities with that.
What are the treatment options for allergies?
It is a graduation of medications essentially. Start with really simple and keep adding to it and determine if it is adequate or if it compromises your lifestyle and if the side effects of the medication are not something you want to deal with then we go to immunotherapy.
When should someone seek help from an allergist?
I think they could try some of these medications advertised on TV like Zyrtec and Claritin and Allegra. They could try that and see how they respond. If they don’t respond and are still miserable they should consult their primary care physician and if that doesn’t work then they should see us.
Spring and Summer bring more than just pretty flowers and warm temperatures. For allergy suffers it can be a season of misery. Dr. Nicki Nair, Allergist, Boys Town National Research Hospital, explains how allergies are developed, the common signs and symptoms of allergies, the common allergens in the spring and summer, what you can do to avoid them and when it's time to see an allergist.