Allergist Dr. David Weldon Offers Tips To Help Lessen Allergy Symptoms This Season
Spring not only brings April showers and May flowers. It also brings sniffling, runny noses and itchy eyes to thousands of allergy sufferers in Central Texas.
“Some people have mild symptoms and some people are miserable,” said David R. Weldon, MD, an allergist on the medical staff at Baylor Scott & White Medical Center – College Station. “They have severe sneezing fits, nasal congestion and nasal headaches.”
Allergy sufferers may even have asthma symptoms with wheezing, shortness of breath and chest tightness.
“Nasal allergies will make you feel [bad], but asthma symptoms can be very dangerous,” Dr. Weldon said.
Those with allergies not only need to watch their symptoms carefully, but they should also keep track of when their symptoms are more prominent.
“An allergy season basically entails the time the patient is affected,” he said. “Some people are sensitive to one specific allergen and some are sensitive to several different allergens.”
Here is a list of the most common allergens in Central Texas and when they pollinate:
|January – February||Elm|
|End of February – Early April||Oak|
|End of April – Mid-June||Grasses|
|September – October||Ragweed|
|Mid-December – early February||Mountain Cedar|
With these common allergens pollinating almost year round, it may seem impossible to get relief from your symptoms. But Dr. Weldon said there are several ways you can protect you and your loved ones during allergy season.
Protecting Yourself From Allergy Symptoms
- Limit outdoor activity if not well-managed by medication
- Keep doors and windows closed
- Change the filter in your air conditioner — you do not need a special filter if you have allergies
- Avoid driving with the windows down
- Use the “recirculation” button when driving in your car
- Hope for rain — it can help wash away pollen
Your allergy season may overlap with cold and flu season. So, how do you know if what you have is a bad case of allergies or a virus?
“Generally, allergies are going to be reflected by itching,” Dr. Weldon said. “Histamine is released from allergy-reacting cells and it causes itching of the eyes, nose and roof of the mouth. Some patients also experience an itching in their ears or a tickle in their throat.”
A cold, on the other hand, will produce a scratchy, sore condition. It might even cause the person to feel achy like they’ve got a mild case of the flu.
“The body responds to the infection that is caused by a cold or a virus, which may cause an [elevation] of the patient’s temperature,” he said. “Allergies do not give you an elevation of your body temperature unless you have a secondary bacterial infection.”
If you think you are experiencing allergies, Dr. Weldon recommends trying to deal with the symptoms with an over-the-counter medication first.
“There are a lot of medications that are available for allergy sufferers,” he said. “Zyrtec, Claritin and Allegra are all outstanding anti-histamines.”
However, if you’ve tried medications, and you’re still not getting relief, Dr. Weldon suggests seeing your primary care physician or a board certified allergist. The vast majority of health plans are now allowing free access to specialists, including the Scott & White Health Plan, the doctor said.
“You used to have to get a referral from your primary care physician, but now Scott & White is allowing access to specialists at the patient’s request.”
Whether you’re suffering a little or a lot this allergy season, Dr. Weldon said preventative medication is always wise.
“If you keep your symptoms minimized, then you’re not trying to play catch up,” he said. “Once the immune response gets ahead of you, then it’s very difficult to get caught up.”
For more information about allergies and pollen counts in your area, visit the National Allergy Bureau’s website.
If you think you might be suffering from severe allergies, find an allergy and immunology physician at Baylor Scott & White Health today.
About the author
Jessa McClure holds a degree in journalism and mass communication from the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor in Belton, TX, where she is currently an adviser for student publications. She has been a writer in the health care field since 2009.