Allergy season is upon us, (runny-nosed, watery-eyed) friends. And if you’re like the thousands of other Philadelphians who suffer from seasonal allergies, then you know they can leave you foggy and fatigued. To combat this perennial nuisance — and perhaps put a stop to your seasonal allergies for good — we spoke with Jeffrey Millstein, MD, a primary care physician at Penn Internal Medicine Woodbury Heights, who provided us a slew of helpful tips for tackling allergy season head-on.
First, some good news: there are no new super-pollens out there ready to wreak havoc on your nostrils. “I am not aware that there are any ‘new’ allergens this year,” says Millstein. So stay on the lookout for repeat offenders like grasses, trees and weeds, which are loaded with allergy-inducing pollen granules.
But if you’ve noticed that your allergies are particularly bad this year, it might be because of those balmy, sunny days we experienced a few weeks ago. According to Millstein, “Often if there is warmer weather in early spring, pollens may be more abundant which can cause a worse allergy year for sufferers.” To remedy this, he suggests staying indoors when pollen counts are especially high (you can reference weather.com for this!), and hopping in the shower after spending time outdoors — especially after doing yard work. Though you might be indoors, it doesn’t mean that the pollen permeating the air hasn’t clung to your clothing and hair.
While many people have been afflicted with seasonal allergies for many years and have consulted a physician, it’s always smart to run your symptoms by a doctor if you find that your allergies are persistent, atypical or do not respond to over-the-counter medications. “Some folks may experience wheezing or skin rash, [so] it is important to be sure that the symptoms are indeed from pollen and not another environmental agent or infection,” notes Millstein. “I would suggest a visit to the doctor if the symptoms are refractory or do not correlate with higher pollen count times, or if accompanied by fever.”
His parting advice? Start taking your medications as soon as possible — especially if you’re not demonstrating symptoms. “Allergy sufferers can do a lot to ward off symptoms,” he explains. “It helps to begin medications before symptoms develop if you are a known reactor, and take them consistently.” Most allergy medication are available over-the-counter these days, but he notes that some prescription plans may still cover these medications, which may be cost-saving for the patient.
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