Thursday, April 17, 2014

Treating Seasonal Allergies

Each year, more than 40 million Americans suffer from seasonal allergies with symptoms such as itchy, watery eyes; coughing; sneezing and wheezing. This spring, the more than 1 million allergy sufferers in Maryland have a rough road ahead, with pollen counts projected to be higher than usual.

“The snowy winter weather actually makes it easier for trees to pollinate, and all that moisture is currently being consumed by the trees. We’ve had so much snow this winter that the ground is oversaturated with water,” says Lama Al Samara, MD, a primary care physician at GBMC at Joppa Road. “The wet ground, along with warmer temperatures, will allow trees to produce much more pollen.”

Since this spring is going to be a particularly harsh time for allergy sufferers, learn how you can prepare for and treat the symptoms of seasonal allergies with a few tips from Dr. Al Samara.

  • Know the cause of your allergies. If you have allergies and if you know the allergy triggers, try to steer clear. 
  • Don’t mistake a cold for allergies. “A low-grade fever, sore throat and a cough are a few signs of a cold, but allergies usually don’t have those symptoms,” says Dr. Al Samara. “You might have a little bit of sore throat with allergies, but, it’s mostly runny nose and red, itchy eyes.”
  • Start medicating early. Over-the-counter pills, prescription sprays and immunotherapy allergy shots are recommended. See your primary care physician to find out which medications are right for you.
  • Avoid exercising outdoors at dawn and dusk, when pollen levels are at their highest. If possible, take fitness classes indoors or swim laps at an indoor pool this spring to stay out of the elements.
  • Keep pollen out of your home. Dr. Al Samara advises removing your shoes before you come into your home and avoid leaving the windows open.

Don’t suffer from your allergies alone! If you need a primary care doctor, visit to browse physicians in your area who are currently accepting new patients. 

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