CLEVELAND (WJW)– Allergy season is upon us. But if you’re feeling like it’s worse than usual, there’s a reason and those who suffer from allergies need to be prepared.
“We don’t want people to hibernate, but warm summer breezy days are predictably days with high levels of pollens,” said Dr. David Lang, chair of the Cleveland Clinic’s Allergy and Immunology Institute.
He said allergy season typically moves along a predictable sequence — with tree season in the early months of spring and grass season through mid-May to mid-July. Then ragweed season in the fall. But unpredictable weather has caused the first two seasons to occur at the same time.
“There was snow on the ground in the middle of May and we’ve had a lot of precipitation. So if you’re allergic to tree and grass, it’s kind of a double hit,” Lang said.
He said the tree season will fade, but the bigger issue is a situation called priming.
“If you have the exposures to high levels of pollens and you get, as we say primed, later on in the season even with low levels of exposure, it’s enough to provoke prominent symptoms,” Lang said.
He said coronavirus and allergies overlap in that they are respiratory conditions, but there are important differences.
“If you’re having fits of sneezing, itching of your eyes nose throat, the symptoms improve when you’re indoors in the air conditioning, it’s likely you’re having a reaction to pollen season. On the other hand, if you start to have a prominent cough, high fever, you should see a doctor because you may have the coronavirus infection.”
Lang said the face coverings many have been wearing are also helpful against allergies as pollen particles are larger than virus particles. He said surgical masks are more helpful than cloth masks.
People can reduce symptoms, Lang said, by keeping the outside airflow to a minimum.
“With the windows closed and air conditioning on, you can cut down on the indoor pollen count by 90 percent or more.”
He recommends using an over-the-counter intranasal steroids like Rhinocort, Nasacort or Flonase with an antihistamine like Allegra, Zyrtec or Claritin.
“Take medication regularly, whether you think they need it or not, don’t wait until you have a high level of symptoms,” Lang said.
He said if symptoms disrupt daily activities or your sleep, you may need to see an allergist for further treatments.