Time to get those tissues ready as allergy season begins. Courtesy image: Terry Kanakri

Spring allergies make their unwelcome return

Spring is officially here, so you’ll likely be hearing more people saying “Gesundheit” because that means allergy season has also arrived.

In fact, various types of allergies affect over 50 million Americans, which is also the sixth leading cause of chronic illness in the United States, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America.

“A lot of the trees and plants all start blooming and are in the process of releasing their pollen,” said Dr. Bud Lawrence, medical director of the emergency department at Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital. “Winds pick up the pollen, taking them through the air and they irritate people’s allergies. You’re inhaling it, you’re getting it on your skin.”

Symptoms can depend on the person and their allergies. Those symptoms can range from sneezing, a runny nose, watery eyes and nasal congestion. People might also suffer fatigue, headaches or a sore throat. The simplest way to avoid these symptoms would be to stay inside with windows closed and using an air conditioner. This applies not only to homes but also inside vehicles.

“The first step to do would be to avoid the situation (of exposing yourself to allergens),” Lawrence said. “If it’s a really windy day, keep inside. Some people can have some pretty severe symptoms.”

There isn’t a cure for seasonal allergies, according to Dr. Joseph G. Dizon, chief of service at the department of allergy and immunology at Kaiser Permanente West Los Angeles Medical Center, in a news release issued Thursday.

“Because allergy symptoms, such as weepy eyes, runny nose and sneezing, typically peak in the morning hours, taking your 24-hour allergy medication before going to bed often means that you’ll get the maximum effect when you need it the most,” Dizon wrote in the release.

Both Dizon and Lawrence recommend to those with allergies to take antihistamines such as Claritin, Zyrtec and Flonase. Lawrence added that using sinus rinse can help flush out allergens in a patient’s nasal passages.

Allergy symptoms can become more severe if someone has eczema or asthma. When those conditions become exacerbated by allergies, people might need to make a visit to emergency care, Lawrence said.

For more information about how to prepare for allergy season, visit healthy.kaiserpermanente.org.

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