Spring has sprung! This time of year is beautiful in Georgia, with the weather getting warmer unfortunately brings pollen.
Seasonal allergies come with many symptoms including itching, congested sinuses, sneezing and a runny nose. It can be very disruptive while trying to enjoy the new season.
“With the blooming of trees, grass as well as the emergence of various flowers in spring, many various types of pollen are released in the air that we breathe,” says Dr. Eric Heine, M.D.
“Although many people blame the yellow pollen from pine trees, this rarely is a source of the allergy symptoms people experience secondary to its larger size and relative lack of allergenic proteins. However, there are many other trees in our area that can cause allergic symptoms such as maple, birch, oak, walnut, ash and hickory.”
Spring allergy season can start as early as February and run through late May as different plants bloom and release their pollen. Heavy rains can cause molds to grow in shaded areas, triggering allergies in certain people.
There are several things allergy sufferers can do to decrease their symptoms.
“If you are sensitive to certain pollen, then monitor the pollen count and avoid excessive outdoor activity if the count is high, if you can,” says Dr. Heine. “Staying in air conditioning where the air is often filtered can also decrease the amount of pollen you inhale. If you have access to a portable air filter with a HEPA filter, using this at night in your bedroom also aids in clearing the pollen.
“Pollen also likes to cling to clothing and pets, so washing clothes and animals often can help decrease the pollen count in your environment,” continues Heine. “Some people also recommend rinsing the nasal passages with a Neti Pot to clear them of attached pollen.”
Fortunately, UWG Health Services has affordable options for students who suffer from allergy symptoms.
“UWG Student Health Services have an array of medications that can help mitigate the irritation of seasonal allergies,” says Dr. Heine. “Many of them are free of charge at the pharmacy but a consultation with a provider may be best to tailor the therapy to your particular situation.”
Dr. Heine also recommends starting allergy medicine at the onset of the season to help minimize symptoms instead of after they have become prominent.
While seasonal allergies are quite the burden, Dr. Heine wants to remind students there is hope.
“Although not usually life-threatening, seasonal allergies can really disrupt your quality of life and ability to focus on your studies and extracurricular activities,” says Dr. Heine. “It is very hard to avoid contact with allergens but with appropriate preventative measures and medical treatment, these symptoms can at least be controlled to make allergy season more tolerable.”