Tips for helping patients with allergies prepare for another bad pollen season

Clinicians can use tips from the ACAAI to help patients manage their allergy symptoms.
Clinicians can use tips from the ACAAI to help patients manage their allergy symptoms.

As another potentially bad pollen season approaches, clinicians can help patients with allergies manage their symptoms with recommendations from the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (ACAAI).

“Unfortunately, it's true that in the past few years, the amount of pollen in the air during spring allergy season seems to have gotten worse,” says allergist Bryan Martin, DO, president of the ACAAI. “One of the reasons is the effects of climate change. Increased carbon dioxide from longer growing seasons as a result of warmer weather has a positive effect on pollen production. That means a negative effect on those suffering from pollen allergens.”

To help patients with allergies combat their symptoms, the ACAAI has released a number of tips.

The most effective treatment for allergies is immunotherapy (also known as allergy shots), though treatment is gradual with a therapy duration of 3 to 5 years, according to the ACAAI. The organization rates it as a good option for patients seeking a natural treatment for their allergies, though immunotherapy is usually only recommended for patients who are selectively sensitive to several allergens.

Although many patients with allergies self-medicate using over-the-counter options, clinicians are advised to suggest prescription medications. A recent study found that prescription medications were more effective than over-the-counter options for alleviating allergy symptoms. To make these medications even more effective, the ACAAI recommends encouraging patients to start taking their prescription allergy medication 2 to 3 weeks before their symptoms usually manifest. This can help reduce overall symptom severity.

If patients are looking for small, easy changes that can help manage their symptoms, clinicians can recommend the following:

  • Check weather reports for pollen and mold counts.
  • During allergy season, keep windows closed.
  • Pollen counts are the highest midday and in the afternoon, so stay inside during these times.
  • After spending time outdoors, shower, wash your hair, and change your clothes.
  • If you need to do outdoor chores such as mowing the lawn, wear a NIOSH-rated 95 filter mask and take allergy medication beforehand.

Reference

  1. American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology. Will this spring really bring the worst pollen season ever? Again? Newswise. February 29, 2016. http://newswise.com/articles/view/648897/. Accessed March 22, 2016.
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