Don’t just suffer through it: doctors say now’s the time to treat allergies

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(March 26, 2014) – All that moisture (snow) we’ve seen this winter is likely to mean a big bloom this spring. Allergy suffers say it’s already starting.

“Runny nose, headache, cough,” said Tom House, describing his wife’s seasonal allergies.

Doctors are seeing an increase in patients with those symptoms around Indiana right now.

“A lot of people who are really sensitive are starting to notice symptoms: itchy eyes, nose congestion,” said Dr. Scott Phillips, an ear, nose and throat allergist with St. Vincent Health.

National pollen forecasts show levels will increase in central Indiana on Wednesday compared to Tuesday with another increase predicted by Saturday.

“Feeling weak, tired or just irritable,” he said. But he also said people with allergies shouldn’t feel like they have to just suffer through it.

“Nowadays there are a lot available over-the-counter allergy medicines like Claritin and Zyrtec,” he said, pointing to Nasacort as a new over-the-counter nasal spray option.

Phillips said the first trick is often figuring out what is actually causing allergies. Many people think grass is the culprit, but it’s really mold beneath the grass that gets stirred up when it’s mowed.

The task of finding the right medicine can also be frustrating and may require trial and error.

“Allergies are they like a combination,” said Phillips. “A lock that we’re going to try to have to pick, so it’s going to be a trial and error until we find the perfect combination of allergy medicines for them.”

New research shows treating allergies cuts down on the number of sinus infections a person has and improves overall nasal health, said Phillips.

He said even though we’re thinking about outdoor causes like pollen, it’s important to keep an eye on indoor ones like mold, dust and mites.

“I vacuum a lot and I make sure I dust all of our furniture,” said Christy Williams, a mother of two.

Phillips recommends patients who know about their allergies, like to pet dander, pre-treat by taking an antihistamine before going into an environment where it will be a problem.