Spring Allergies and Asthma

Photo by Wade Morgen

Photo by Wade Morgen

Every year as the trees and grass start to grow, we receive lots of calls about what to do. Here is some useful advice:

At the end of the day take a bath or shower to get rid of the pollen in your hair and on your body. Remove the clothing worn that day and don’t throw it in a heap on the bedroom floor. The clothing has pollen stuck to it too.

Keep windows closed and run the air conditioner if it is too hot.

Try an over the counter antihistamine: Zyrtec (cetirizine), Claritin (loratadine) or Allegra (fexofenadine). Give it a few days to reach maximum effect. The medications are safe and can be taken for weeks to months without harm. Some people respond better to one of the above more than another, so try different ones if your first selection does not work.

Add a nasal spray.   Nasacort and Flonase are now over the counter. Try it along with the antihistamines. There are other nasal medications available by prescription but we will want to see the patient before prescribing.

Allergy testing: Since nasal and eye allergies can be mild, moderate or severe, and since children can outgrow their allergies up through puberty, we try to use medicine to control the symptoms and bide our time. As a general rule we recommend an allergy consultation in the office (I am also a Board Certified Asthma, Allergy, and Immunology Specialist for children and adults) when the symptoms are moderate to severe, lasting for 2 seasons of the year or more, for 2 years or more, and the medication is not working well enough such that there is an adverse impact of daily comfort.

Asthma also can become active in the spring as pollens in the air can trigger it. The same recommendations about evening showers or baths, and windows closed apply.

For periodic mild wheezing we recommend an albuterol inhaler, 2 puffs about 3 times a day if needed. If you are using the inhaler more than a few days in a row then it is time to add an inhaler with a steroid such as Flovent or Qvar. We always recommend using an inhaler with a spacer to improve the delivery of the medication to the lungs (and not have most of it land in the mouth and throat).

If medications are not adequately controlling the asthma symptoms then it is time for an asthma consultation. A breathing test will be performed, medications adjusted as needed and allergy testing will be considered.

As always, feel free to call the office with any questions, concerns, or to book an appointment.