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Allergy Season is Upon Us – and It’s Lasting Longer

Learn what you can do to ease the misery
April 28, 2023
Man in a blue shirt blowing his nose

Allergy season, which is nobody’s favorite time of year, is actually getting longer due to the surge in pollen production caused by warmer weather. Plants are now producing pollen earlier and for a longer duration. Milder winters and increased average global temperatures are the main culprits. This is another indication of how climate change is impacting people’s daily lives, according to Allison Steiner, a professor of atmospheric science at the University of Michigan.

The North American pollen season has extended by 20 days and pollen concentrations have increased by 21% between 1990 and 2018, according to the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

As temperatures continue to rise, allergy season is likely to persist even longer. Some regions of the US have already experienced allergies a month earlier than usual.

This is terrible news for the 81 million individuals in the U.S. who suffer from seasonal allergies, medically referred to as allergic rhinitis.

Protective measures you can take against allergies

To protect yourself from common allergies, the most important thing is to avoid the allergens that trigger your symptoms. Pay attention to your environment and identify any potential triggers. If possible, try to avoid them or limit your exposure to them.

Consider taking an antihistamine, such as loratadine or cetirizine – in consultation with your dermatology provider – to reduce your symptoms. Also, make sure to drink plenty of water and eat a balanced diet to stay healthy. Finally, get plenty of rest and work on managing your stress levels.

Additional steps you can take:

  • Make your environment pollen-proof: The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences recommends monitoring local pollen counts and staying indoors if possible from 5-10 a.m. on days with high pollen counts.
  • Take a bedtime shower to wash off pollen collected on your skin and hair during the day
  • Use an over-the-counter saline nasal spray to wash out allergens in the nose
  • Keep pets out of the bedroom; their fur can collect pollen
  • Run the air conditioner instead of opening windows to prevent pollen from entering your home
  • Vacuum regularly to pick up stray pollen particles and other allergens
  • Mow the lawn regularly to prevent grass from releasing pollen

Medications to Consider:

  • Antihistamines like cetirizine, fexofenadine, and loratadine can be taken daily until the end of allergy season to block histamine and reduce mild seasonal allergy symptoms.
  • Prescription or over-the-counter steroid nasal sprays like fluticasone and triamcinolone acetonide can reduce swelling and mucus in nasal passageways, making it easier to breathe.
  • Prescription antihistamine nasal sprays like azelastine and olopatadine can be added to a steroid nasal spray if symptoms persist. You’ll need to see a doctor or dermatologist.
  • Immunotherapy. This involves exposure to increasing amounts of allergens to raise your tolerance. Traditional immunotherapy is delivered through regular shots, while sublingual immunotherapy involves placing a dissolvable tablet under the tongue. Sublingual immunotherapy is a good option for grass and ragweed allergies and dust mite allergy treatment. Four treatments approved by the FDA are available, including Odactra, Oralair, Grastek, and Ragwitek. SLIT is an effective option for people who do not see improvement with nasal and antihistamine sprays or have other allergy complications.

If these measures do not provide meaningful relief, or if your symptoms worsen, see your dermatologist right away. Allergy symptoms can affect your airways, sinuses and nasal passages, skin, and digestive system. Allergic reactions can range from mild to severe. In severe cases, allergies can trigger a life-threatening reaction known as anaphylaxis, which can lead to a rapid drop in blood pressure and extreme difficulty breathing. This is usually, though not always, caused by an allergic reaction to certain foods.

Untreated allergies can get worse, with more severe attacks occurring over time. These frequent or prolonged allergic reactions can also weaken your immune system and may lead to serious complications, such as bacterial or fungal infections in the sinuses, lungs, ears or skin.

Let Walk-in Dermatology Take Care of You

If you have concerns about allergies or any skin condition and need dependable answers – fast – you don’t have to wonder, worry or wait. Walk-in Dermatology is here to keep you healthy. Our team of experienced healthcare staff will address your concerns and provide the necessary care for all your skin conditions. We can set up a Video Visit and even prescribe medications remotely, or you can schedule an appointment with us online. The choice is yours. But don’t wait until the problem gets worse. Contact us today.