May flowers don’t have to bring misery to allergy sufferers

shutterstock_76780498-610x390

It is no coincidence that May was selected as Allergy and Asthma Awareness Month: March through May is when trees are pollinating in most of the United States, with some varieties in the South and Southwest getting an even earlier start.

Pollen — the microscopic plant particles that cause seasonal allergies in many people — comes from three general types of plants: trees, grasses and weeds. In general, trees pollinate in the late winter and early spring; grasses often overlap with trees at the end of their season and extend late into the summer; and ragweed, the most potent of allergenic weeds, starts pollinating in mid-August and lasts through September.

Each tree pollinates for one to two weeks, and at that time pollen levels can be quite high, resulting in severe nasal symptoms and, in more severe cases, asthma. In especially pollen-heavy years, some people with nasal allergies can even develop asthma. If you are allergic to only a couple of trees (usually not the case for most tree-allergic people), then your symptoms might only last for a couple of weeks. Any patient with seasonal asthma (or even chest symptoms) should be monitored by a physician, and the same applies to patients with more severe springtime nasal symptoms.

The timing of tree pollens varies each year, depending on the pattern of weather in the preceding winter months. A warmer winter will often result in earlier pollination, and a wetter winter may cause trees to pollinate at higher levels.

Treatment options

The management of pollen symptoms is improved if patients begin medications prior to the development of symptoms. You do not need to suffer during allergy seasons — there are plenty of treatment options:

• Over-the-counter antihistamines (the non-sedating variety are preferable) can help control sneezing and itchiness.
• Prescription nasal and lung steroid sprays can help control nasal congestion and asthma symptoms.
• There are newer prescription nasal antihistamine sprays that work on both sneezing and itching and, when used regularly, can help control congestion, too.
• Patients whose symptoms cannot be controlled with medications might benefit from allergy injections. These injections are given weekly, then less frequently once the patient is desensitized. They reduce the body’s reaction to the normally harmless pollen granules, but they take months or longer to start working.
• For eye itching, the oral antihistamines can be of benefit, and there are antihistamine eyedrops available by prescription and over-the-counter, too.

This post first appeared on www.healthbytesnyc.com. Dr. Bruce Dobozin is an attending allergist in the Department of Medicine at Beth Israel Medical Center. Click here to view his previous posts.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

Is #JusticeForAvaLynn a case of bullying?

On Saturday, the hashtag #JusticeForAvaLynn became one of the trending topics on Twitter. Users circulated the above photo of 5-year-old AvaLynn, posted by her mother…

International

Terrorism could spread to US and Europe in…

Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah said terrorism would soon spread to Europe and the United States unless it is quickly dealt with in the Middle East,…

National

Ex-Bitcoin official to plead guilty to Silk Road…

Bitcoin entrepreneur Charlie Shrem has reached a plea deal to resolve U.S. charges that he engaged in a scheme to sell over $1 million of…

International

China's army changes tactics to prepare for war…

Chinese President Xi Jinping has said China will spur military innovation and called on the army to create a new strategy for "information warfare" as…

Gossip

Joan Rivers on life support: Report

TMZ reports that comedian Joan Rivers has been placed on life support, "completely reliant on machines to stay alive." Rivers has been hospitalized since she…

Movies

What's new on Netflix in September

September has a supernatural theme for Netflix. UFO "documentaries" and the survivalist reality series "Doomsday Preppers" are among the new series coming to the online…

Going Out

'Friends' coffeehouse Central Perk coming to NYC —…

"Friends" is coming back for a one-off special: "The One with the Free Coffee." Warner Bros. is bringing a pop-up replica of Central Perk, the…

Movies

Interview: 'As Above, So Below' directors: 5 ways…

The fraternal directors of the found footage horror "As Above, So Below" dish on the best ways to frighten the bejesus out of audiences.

NFL

3 things we learned in the Giants preseason…

The final score didn’t matter — a 16-13 win by the Giants — but it would’ve been nice to finally see Big Blue’s new-look offense get on track.

NFL

NFL Power Rankings: Seahawks, Broncos, Patriots, 49ers start…

NFL Power Rankings: Seahawks, Broncos, Patriots start at top

U.S. Soccer

5 facts about new England captain Wayne Rooney

Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney was named as the new England captain by coach Roy Hodgson on Thursday.

NFL

Jets vs. Eagles: 3 things to watch

A win on Thursday night at the Eagles would give the Jets a 3-1 record and just their second winning preseason under head coach Rex Ryan.

Wellbeing

VIDEO: Still not wearing sunscreen? You will after…

Sunscreen is possibly the most often repeated - and ignored - piece of skincare advice. But Thomas Leveritt took a different tactic. With a short…

Food

Twitter used to track down sources of food…

When Chicago health officials saw Twitter users complaining about local food poisoning episodes, they reached out on Twitter to those users and often ended up…

Style

Trend: White hot on the 2014 Emmy's red…

White was one of the big trends on the Emmy's red carpet.

Food

Recipe: Samuel Adams beer-marinated grilled shrimp

Summer calls for two things: a cold beer and light food. Sam Adams' Latitude 48 IPA fairly bursts with citrus notes, making it an ideal marinade…