Health Beat with Dr. Alicia Arnold: Seasonal allergies

Now that the weather is finally getting warmer, spring allergies will soon be in full swing for a lot of people.

Two weeks ago, we talked about year-round allergies, and on Monday, Dr. Alicia Arnold joined us to discuss seasonal allergies.

Meghan Kulig: What kinds of things usually trigger allergies in the spring?

Dr. Arnold: The spring allergy season usually starts predominately with tree pollen, followed by grass in the summer and weeds in the late summer/early fall. You can find out about pollen counts from various websites or newspapers.

Meghan Kulig: So what are some simple things people can do to minimize allergies?

Dr. Arnold: Stay inside when pollen counts are high. It's pretty much the opposite of what we all feel like doing after this long winter, but keeping windows closed at home and in the car can make a big difference. Change your air filter. Pollen may be worse on dry, warm, windy days and in the morning, around 5-10 am.

Meghan Kulig: And what if people have to go outside?

Dr. Arnold: Showering and changing your clothes once you return inside will help remove some of the pollen you may be exposed to outdoors. Wear a mask for yard work or wear sunglasses to prevent pollen from getting in your eyes. Pollen counts are lower after a heavy rain, so that may be a better time to get outside.

Meghan Kulig: Your pets can bring pollen into the house also, right?

Dr. Arnold: Yes, bathing pets to remove pollen can be helpful. Also, try not to have them sleep in bed with you, to reduce your exposure to allergens.

Meghan Kulig: How about allergy medicines?

Dr. Arnold: If you know you are going to be exposed to a large amount of pollen, consider taking your medication beforehand. Many people find that medicines work better if you start to take them before you have bothersome symptoms. Also, some antihistamines can make you drowsy, so you may prefer to take them before bedtime.

Meghan Kulig: What if you're not certain what you are allergic to?

Dr. Arnold: It sometimes can be confusing, since people may have year-round allergies like dust mites or pet dander and then also have seasonal allergies. You can talk with your healthcare provider about possible allergy testing to try to figure out what you are allergic to.

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