This spring threatens to deliver a particularly nasty allergy season, and those who suffer from hay fever (seasonal rhinitis) need to be prepared, experts are warning. Indeed, as well as being worse than usual, pollen allergy symptoms are affecting people much earlier this year.
According to a press release Dr. Jordan Josephson, a sinus specialist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York "with the crazy up and down weather, some parts of the country [US] could see worse allergy-provoking conditions. There is likely to be a 'pollen superburst' this season, so sufferers should get ready. It promises to be a nasty spring," he added.
It's crucial to deal with allergy symptoms immediately, according to Josephson.
"Allergies left untreated can cause sinus swelling, leading to chronic sinusitis. Allergies can also affect your digestive tract. Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) can be a direct response of the allergic response. So allergies can seriously affect your quality of life. Just ask any allergy or sinus sufferer," he said.
Speaking to the Chicago Tribune, Assistant Chief in the Division of Allergy and Immunology at Northwell Health in Great Neck, N.Y, Dr. Punita Ponda suggested that those who know they have spring allergies start taking allergy medication at least one to two weeks before the start of allergy season (although it may already have started for some). Continuing taking it throughout the season is equally important.
Josephson outlined a number of other ways to keep allergy symptoms under control, including: staying indoors as much as possible between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., when pollen counts are highest; using air conditioning, which cleans and dries the air; keeping doors and windows closed; and using an air purifier.
After being outdoors, remove your clothes and wash them immediately. Keep pollen-exposed clothes separate from clean clothes. You should also take a shower after being outside to remove pollen from your skin and hair, he suggested.
In addition, irrigate your sinuses daily to flush out pollen. And take antihistamines, but try to avoid decongestants.
These are all sensible strategies The Environmental Illness Resource also advocates, along with various natural remedies that can be hugely beneficial in helping to reduce the irritating and sometimes debilitating symptoms of respiratory allergies.
Natural remedies that are inhaled and work in part by coating the nasal passages with cellulose powder to provide a physical barrier to pollen are one alternative or adjunct to antihistamines that may become a hay fever sufferer's best friend. Examples of such topical OTC treatments include Nasaleze and SneezEze.
Those affected by allergies may find the following resources of benefit:
These articles also discuss and expand upon the techniques touched on by Dr. Ponda, as well as looking at nutritional supplements (e.g. vitamin C, quercetin, bromelain) that can act as natural antihistamines.
With an early and severe allergy season likely upon us, there's one thing for certain - if you're affected by pollen allergies there's no time like the present to research your management and treatment options.