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Woman with allergies blowing nose and sneezing outside from flowers, trees, weeds, and pollen

Finding Relief from Seasonal Allergies: When to Start Your Routine

By Kristy Warren

 

From flowers and grasses to budding trees, there’s a lot of seasonal allergens to make us sneeze! Suffering from sneezes, a runny nose, and dry, itchy eyes? Illness might not be to blame. As plants bud and blossom, seasonal allergies are out in force, and it’s estimated that upwards of 50 million Americans experience some form of allergic rhinitis—an inflammation in the lining of the nose caused by allergies.

James Biery, PA-C, Certified Physician's Assistant at Mansfield & Wellsboro Laurel Health Centers

Indoor allergies like dust, mold, and pet dander can affect allergy sufferers all year long. The term “seasonal allergies” is used to refer to environmental allergens like grass, pollen, tree blossoms, and weeds that change with the seasons. If you're affected by seasonal allergies, now is the time to prepare

 

James Biery, PA-C, a certified physician assistant with the Wellsboro and Mansfield Laurel Health Centers, shares how to prepare for allergy season, ways to tell allergies from illness, and the best ways to tame your seasonal allergies. 

WHAT ARE ALLERGIES? 

 

An allergy is an immune response to something the body shouldn’t “attack.” Our immune system is designed to protect us from harmful foreign substances like illness-carrying germs. It protects us by identifying the danger and developing antibodies to combat it. When you have an allergy, your immune system responds this same way to a substance that isn’t typically harmful like ragweed, cat hair, dust, or tree pollen. During your previous encounters with the allergen, your immune system branded it as a harmful foreign substance and created antibodies designed to attack it.

 

If you’re suffering from dry, itchy eyes, sneezing, or a runny nose at the same time each year, allergies may be to blame. While severity varies, many Americans suffer from seasonal allergies. Laurel Health provider James Biery, PA-C explains how to recognize and tame your allergies in a few simple steps in the short video below:

COMMON ALLERGY SYMPTOMS:

 

When your immune system battles an allergen, it releases chemicals that cause a wide array of uncomfortable symptoms. The most common allergy symptoms include:

  • Sneezing

  • Itchy or watery eyes

  • Scratchy throat

  • Coughing or wheezing

  • Runny nose or postnasal drip

  • Nasal congestion

  • Clogged ears

 

ALLERGIES OR ILLNESS?

 

If you’re trying to determine if you’re allergic to something or just feeling under the weather, look carefully at the onset of your symptoms. Ask yourself if your symptoms are persistent all day long or change based on where you are and what you’re doing.

 

Do your symptoms begin when you step outside? Do you always react when you are exposed to a specific thing (e.g., a dog or cat, blooming trees, your backyard)? Do your symptoms resolve after you’ve taken an antihistamine or steroid nasal spray like Flonase? If you start sneezing around the first week of May every year, chances are you are allergic to a plant that is blossoming during that time. If your eyes always get itchy after petting your neighbor’s cat, you could be allergic to that cat’s dander.

 

The biggest differentiators for allergies vs. illness are:

  • Feeling itchy (e.g., itchy eyes, throat, mouth, or skin)

  • How quickly your symptoms present: allergies present quickly when you’re exposed to an allergen as opposed to an extended incubation period for developing symptoms

With COVID-19 cases trending upward, you may be feeling anxious about every cough or sneeze. If you’re currently experiencing respiratory symptoms and aren’t sure whether you’re dealing with illness or allergies, call your family medicine provider. Your provider will perform a thorough evaluation and determine what testing may be needed to determine the cause of your symptoms and the best treatment options.

 

Need a provider? Call the Laurel Health Centers at 1-833-LAURELHC (1-833-528-7354) and select one of our seven conveniently located clinics to make an appointment. The Laurel Health Centers are always accepting new patients of all ages.

Mild-to-moderate seasonal allergies can often be well-managed with over-the-counter medicine, but each person responds to allergy medications differently. For these medications to be most effective, they need to be used routinely. If your allergies are seasonal, it’s also helpful to begin treatment a few weeks ahead of your allergy season (e.g., if you know July is a challenging time for your sinuses each year, start your allergy medication in June).

Young girl with allergies sneezing in a field of dandelions and weeds

HOW TO MANAGE ALLERGIES:

 

Finding the right medication for your sinuses may take some trial and error or an expert opinion. While many people can find relief with over-the-counter medicines like antihistamines, nasal sprays, and decongestants, those who want to reduce their use of allergy medication or have poorly controlled allergies may be a candidate for allergy shots or allergy drop therapy.

 

Your provider will walk you through your treatment options and help you decide the best fit for you. If you’re concerned about potential allergies or having trouble managing them, the Laurel Health Centers can help. Simply call 1-833-LAURELHC (1-833-528-7354) and select the center of your choice to set up a visit. 

  

WHEN TO CALL YOUR PROVIDER

 

The Laurel Health Centers are here to help you identify and manage your allergies through safe, effective treatment that’s personalized to your allergy needs. You should call your family medicine provider if:

  • You're unsure you have allergies or what specifically you're allergic to and want to confirm

  • You're concerned it might not be allergies and need to rule out sinus infections, COVID-19, or other respiratory issues

  • Your allergies are uncontrolled and making you miserable

  • Over-the-counter medicines don’t seem to be working well to control your symptoms or you want to cut back on your use of those allergy medications

  • You want to discuss long-term symptom relief options like allergy shots or allergy drop therapies

If you suspect you’re suffering from allergies, don’t wait—make an appointment. Laurel Health can help you find an effective treatment plan to better manage your symptoms. James Biery, PA-C specializes in family medicine and ears, nose, and throat issues. To make an appointment with James, call 570-724-1010 (Wellsboro) or 570-662-2002 (Mansfield).

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