East Texas health professionals give tips for allergy season

By Holley Nees - email

NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) – Spring officially begins Saturday, which means itchy eyes and runny noses for many people, and the harsher winter could mean a tougher time this spring for those that suffer from allergies.

"It's been very cold and it's also been very wet and both of those add to the fact that we see much more fungal spores in the air," said Ear, Nose, and Throat Doctor Arlis Hibbard.  "Plus, we're going to have a great time with wildflowers I understand, unfortunately, the difference between wildflowers and domestic flowers is domestic flowers don't give you allergies."

Medicine Shoppe Pharmacist John Bob Cody said since allergies are caused by changes in the environment, it's possible the harsher winter could mean a different allergy response.

"The key to using medications is really not as much preventative as it is treatment," said Cody.

He said if you can't avoid what causes your allergy symptoms, then you can try to prepare for it by taking your medication ahead of time.

"Generally I recommend that people, if they know ragweed is a problem and it's about to start blooming, then I tell them to go ahead and take their antihistamine every day, even if they feel like they don't need it," said Cody.

"If you know that you have allergies worse in the spring or worse in the fall...you want to start like about a week early before the flowers actually start blooming," explained Hibbard.  "That gives you a good blood concentration or tissue concentration of the medication."

When it comes to treatment, it's important to realize the difference between allergies and sinusitis.

"Allergies simply mean that you have itchy eyes, a runny nose, sneezing, but sinusitis means that you actually have pain around your eyes, sometimes when you cough or sneeze instead of it being a clear discharge, it's colored," said Hibbard.

If it's allergies you have, you can treat them so you can still enjoy this spring.

Cody said many customers use Claritin or Zyrtec because they are lower or non-sedating and don't interfere with peoples' work or activities.  Hibbard also said there are many nasal sprays available over the counter that directly block allergies.  However, they encourage you to ask your health professional about what's right for you.

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