DES MOINES, Iowa -- While many of us look forward to the warmer months, for some it can be a miserable time of the year. It is after all allergy season. Experts say allergies may be worse than normal this spring.
Doctors at Pediatric and Adult Allergy in Des Moines said we had a somewhat harsh winter and now that spring is here, and pollen is being released into the air, many people who have been fine all winter will be hit hard by allergies this spring.
They said many previous winters have been mild, so common allergens like pollen and grass did not totally die out, people may have experienced mild allergy symptoms all year. This year the grass and flowers are suddenly blooming, and the trees are thawing out and the wind spreads the pollen and mold.
“People can have a lot of nasal congestion, itchy eyes, runny nose, post nasal drip, they can be a little bit more itchy all over,” said Pediatric and Adult Allergy Nurse Practitioner Kelly Pearson.
Pearson recommends using over the counter antihistamines like Allegra or Zyrtec to combat your symptoms but if those don’t seem to help, doctors can write prescriptions to use along with the over the counter drug.
“If someone is not having symptom relief with just over the counter nasal sprays then there are prescription medications, like nasal sprays we can prescribe. As well as some of the over the counter eye drops don’t particularly help or people aren’t finding relief with them then there’s prescription eye drops we can use as well,” Pearson said.
And if even the prescription medication does not work there are weekly and biweekly allergy shots that will build up your immune system to the allergy over several years.
“So, it’s a commitment but a lot of people don’t like to take a lot of medications or despite taking multiple medications they still are suffering and it’s affecting their quality of life, they can feel fatigued and rundown and they want to be outside watching their kids play different sports,” Person said.
Pearson said the best way to prevent allergy symptoms in the future is to take an allergy test to find out what exactly you are allergic to. They can test for a wide variety of allergens.
“Like ten different trees, about eight different molds, a multitude of weeds, ragweed, dust mite, dog, horse, cat or I have had people who work with other animals, so we can test for cow and gerbil, hamster, that type of thing as well,” Pearson said.
However, you do need to be off antihistamines for a week prior to the allergy test, that can be hard for some people who are really suffering right now.