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Spring is here and so is allergy season

Palestine Herald-Press - 3/22/2024

Mar. 21—This week marks the official start to spring, and as warmer weather begins to settle in, the season brings with it an unwanted guest — allergies.

More than 25% of Americans, approximately 80 million people, suffer from seasonal allergies which can range from a mild nuisance to a near-debilitating issue, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"Allergy symptoms can last for several weeks, if not months," said Dr. Lori George, a family medicine physician with CHRISTUS Trinity Clinic in Texarkana. "The key is to recognize your level of sensitivity and try to be as proactive as possible."

Taking an antihistamine early in allergy season before symptoms start, using an air purifier at home, avoiding outdoor activities in the morning where pollen counts are highest and tracking your local pollen counts are all ways to prepare for the allergy season.

In the East Texas region, high counts of pollens like cedar, elm, oak and ragweed are extremely common, and due to humidity, mold spores can make symptoms worse.

It is very common for a person to develop a sinus infection on top of dealing with allergies, and those infections usually require prescription medications.

"Allergies and illness, like a common cold, can be hard to tell apart as they present very similar symptoms: congestion, sneezing, itchy throat, and runny nose," said Dr. David Larsen, a family medicine physician with CHRISTUS Trinity Clinic in Tyler. "The key difference is a cold will normally include a period of having a fever and should resolve itself in a few days, whereas allergy symptoms can persist for a much longer period."

Larsen said that anyone with severe allergies may want to consider allergen immunotherapy, commonly treated through shots or oral droplets, to help desensitize the immune system over longer periods of time.

For those with less-severe symptoms, over-the-counter remedies such as antihistamines, nasal corticosteroids and decongestants should alleviate symptoms.

"If symptoms persist, despite over-the-counter remedies, significantly impact daily activities or simply continue to worsen over time, it's best to seek medical attention," Larson said. "Individuals with a history of severe allergic reactions, such as anaphylaxis, should also promptly consult a health care provider."


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