COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Sneezing, sniffling and irritation: It’s something many people face during allergy season. Now, experts say allergy sufferers could face those issues for longer period of time, while symptoms can also be more intense.
Dr. Kara Wada, an allergist and immunologist with Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center, said experts are seeing a longer time frame when we see a thaw and a freeze, which increases the length of the growing season.
“That along with warmer temperatures, plenty of water and carbon dioxide are all of the ingredients we need to make more plant growth and to make more pollen” said Dr. Wada. “Those increase pollen counts are really responsible for many of itchy, watery eyes, runny noses, cough, congestion and all of those things folks are suffering with right now.”
If you are facing allergies, Dr. Wada said she takes a three-way approach to managing allergies.
“The first is eliminating exposure to what you’re allergic to,” said Wada. “Use a little bit of salt water spray or a rinse like a neti pot to flush out your sinus passageways.”
The next approach Dr. Wada encourages is using medication and finding out which one is right for you.
“Nasal steroid sprays are the most effective, but they really take regular use for two to four weeks to see their best effect,” said Wada. “Medications like Zyrtec and Claritin can be really helpful with that itching, watering and sneezing.”
The last option Dr. Wada said could help is allergy immunotherapy. Wada said this measure helps improve your symptoms by shifting your immune response from fighting the allergens that you’re allergic to, to ignoring them over the long-term.
Dr. Wada said it’s also important to pay attention to your symptoms to make sure its an allergy flare up, rather than the cold. Wada said to watch for the duration of your symptoms. The longer the symptoms last, the more likely it is allergies.
“If you are dealing with anything like fever, it’s more likely to be an infection you’re dealing with,” Wada said. “The main way you can tell is to get allergy tested. This is going to help you understand what your triggers are, specific to you.”
As you can get tested and find ways to alleviate symptoms, Dr. Wada said allergy season won’t be ending any time soon.
“We will not see an end to allergy season until we have another good frost later this fall,” Wada said. “Early in the spring, as soon as things start thawing, we see tree pollen. Right now, we’re in the midst of tree and grass allergies … and as we get closer to the start of football season and the next school year, we will see ragweed.”