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Sarasota Thursday, Apr. 19, 2018 1 year ago

Allergies problematic year-round

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Tree pollen is dying down, but a lot of people deal with different allergens throughout the year.
by: Cassidy Alexander Staff Writer

Ahh, just another day in paradise.

The days are warm and the nights are cool. That means tree, grass and ragweed pollens are thriving.

In the cool morning hours, that’s when pollen peaks.

And as the temperature rises, so does the humidity. That means mold spores are growing wherever it’s warm and wet.

Welcome to Florida allergy season — all 365 days of the year.

You wake up and you can’t stop blowing your nose. Suddenly a box of tissues is glued to your side. You feel like there’s something in your nose that makes you keep sneezing, but there’s nothing there. You’re probably coughing. Maybe your eyes and throat are itchy but nothing you do is making it stop. You may even have flare-ups of your asthma.

Fortunately, Dr. Hugh Windom, of Windom Allergy in Sarasota, has a few suggestions for how to deal with allergies.

First, avoid whatever sets you off. Windom said it’s simple if you’re allergic to cats, but harder if you’re allergic to pollen or a type of weed. In that case, try to spend less time outdoors. Keep your windows closed, and if you’re avoiding tree pollen, try not to go outside in the mornings.

Next is medications. Over-the-counter antihistamines like Claritin, Allegra or Zyrtec can help, and so can nasal sprays like Flonase. A doctor can also prescribe prescription allergy medications to help relieve symptoms.

If these aren’t effective, the next medicinal step is allergy shots, Windom said. These are administered weekly for a year, and eventually make you immune to your allergy.

The American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology says one thing that can help allergy suffers is a deep spring cleaning at home. A good house scrubbing can help eliminate existing allergens and clean the air. Take extra time in your bathroom, where mold is likely to grow. If you have a pet, be sure to wash upholstery and pet bedding as well.

Then look at your air conditioners. While it may be trendy to use an ionic air filter, they “don’t provide much benefit for allergy sufferers,” the college said. It suggests using a filter with a MERV rating of 11 or 12, and changing the filter every three months.

Using a HEPA room air cleaner can also help.

And, if you’re one for old wives’ tales and home remedies, you might want to think again.

For people who want a home remedy, Windom said the idea of eating local honey to immunize yourself to the allergens in the area isn’t effective. Bees, he said, pollinate colorful plants like flowers. But people are more often allergic to leafy plants, like trees and grass.

“It tastes good, but that’s about the most value they get out of it,” Windom said.

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