Spring flower

Spring Into Action to Combat Allergies

Spring is around the corner. The ground is warming up. Flowers and plants are blooming, and pollen is in the air. With this time of year come spring allergies, and allergy sufferers may experience immune system reactions such as coughing, sneezing, itchy eyes, a scratchy throat, and more. Roughly 50 million people in the United States suffer from allergies, but with the proper preparation, Bayhealth Otolaryngologist Catherine Wright, MD, with Bayhealth ENT, Milford and Dover, says allergy sufferers can better enjoy the warmer weather.

“When the weather shifts, the triggers will begin. When it’s colder longer and the ground freezes, it’s not bad. When we have a milder winter, we see a lot of pollen and mold earlier in the season,” Dr. Wright says. “If you can time it right with prevention techniques a couple of weeks before the weather changes, you and your nose will be ready.”

Here are Dr. Wright's spring allergy prevention tips:

  • Know your trigger points. Common spring allergies include grass and weed pollen, trees, and mold.
  • Start a nasal steroid a couple of weeks before spring. Nasal sprays decrease inflammation and can decrease reactions to allergens. It takes four weeks for nasal sprays to be fully effective. If you start two weeks beforehand, Dr. Wright says your nose will be ready and symptoms won’t be as bad.
  • Know when to take other medications. Antihistamines such as Zyrtec or Claritin treat symptoms. Taking them two to three weeks before spring won’t do sufferers any good unless they’re suffering from symptoms. “Using nasal sprays early will help you, but don’t take antihistamines if you don’t need them,” Dr. Wright said.
  • Wash away your allergens by showering and rinsing your nose with saline, especially after cleaning your house or doing yard work. “Allergens are in your nose, which can cause a reaction. By ‘washing’ your nose, you’re pushing the allergens out of your body,” Dr. Wright said. This can be done using a sinus rinse kit or a neti pot.

People who suffer from chronic allergies may not experience relief with these preventive techniques. In these cases, allergy shots can help a person’s body acclimate to allergens. “These shots help the body learn how to react to the allergen so when environmental allergies begin, they’re not as bad,” Dr. Wright said.

Bayhealth allergy shot clinics are held at Bayhealth ENT’s locations in Dover and Milford. A referral from your primary care physician may be needed before an appointment can be made. To make an appointment at Bayhealth ENT, call 302-674-3752.