Every year, just when we think winter will never end, Spring finally arrives in all its glory. The days are longer, the temperatures rise, and we can finally put our winter gear away, go outside and enjoy the outdoors, smelling the flowers and running barefoot through the green grass. That is, of course, unless you are one of the millions of people who suffer from seasonal pollen and/or grass allergies. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 50 million Americans suffer from allergies yearly. And to make matters worse for us New Englanders, the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America’s list of “most challenging places to live with spring allergies” has Boston ranked at number 77.
Tree pollen and grass allergies are two of the most common allergies, and they can last for many months. Tree pollen season can begin as early as late February/early March and usually lasts through May. Grass season follows on its heels and continues until July. This means most people with seasonal allergies have to suffer for months. Often times, people aren’t sure if they are suffering from a cold virus or allergies. The difference is that with a cold virus, you usually experience fever, chills and a sore throat- none of which are symptoms of seasonal allergies. While allergies can lead to a scratchy throat, it is not going to be painful. And while coughing can be a symptom of both a cold and allergies, when it’s caused by a cold it tends to be much deeper than a shallow cough that comes with allergies. The main symptoms of seasonal allergies are sneezing, itchy or watery eyes and a scratchy throat.
For children in particular who suffer from allergies, the season can bring stuffy noses, breathing problems and loss of energy, which can be extremely frustrating when they are finally free to play outdoors all day. There are a few steps parents can take to ease the suffering of allergies in children. There are now apps on your smartphone that allow you to easily monitor pollen and other allergen counts, so you can see that if the pollen counts are too high, it is best to keep children inside. Peak pollen hours are usually 5-10am. The best time to be outside is right after it rains when the air is cleaner. Bathing children before bed is important to make sure there are no pollen grains on their hair and skin while they sleep. Keep the windows closed in your house and car to prevent pollen from blowing in, and wear sunglasses outside so pollen doesn’t get into your eyes.
If you are experiencing symptoms of season allergies, knowing precisely what you are allergic to is important to help you lessen or prevent future exposure and to help treat your current reactions. Allergy skin tests are the most common method. The prick test, which involves pricking the skin with an allergen and then observing the skin’s reaction, provides immediate results.
At ENT Specialists, our allergy services include comprehensive allergy testing, environmental control counseling, medical therapy, and allergy shots. You don’t have to suffer for months on end, year after year. Call our office today to make an allergy appointment for yourself or your child.