Will You Be Prepared For Tree Pollen Allergy Season?

James Thompson, MD Health Pro
  • As the Ides of March approaches how will you prepare for the oncoming pollen season? What does pollen have to do with the Ides of March? The "Ides" of March is the 15th of March, believed to be the date when Julius Caesar was assassinated circa 44 B.C.

    March 15th  is typically the date allergists, in my region of this country, advise tree pollen allergic patients to begin taking their allergy medication (if they have been off allergy medications over the winter).

    In the Midwest, tree season often begins with the first warm spell after winter, which may be as early as February (not this year huh?). Clinical studies have shown that starting certain allergy medicines about two weeks before the pollen season begins may prevent the tree allergic patient from having more severe allergy symptoms. These medicines include slow release, non-drowsy antihistamines (for example brands of Claritin or Allegra) and nasal steroid sprays (which include Flonase, Nasonex, Nasacort AQ, Veramyst and others).

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    Allergists order skin tests (or RAST tests) in order to identify your allergy triggers. The results of allergy testing are interpreted within the context of the time pattern of the patient's allergy symptoms, in order to establish a clinical allergy profile.

    Timely use of allergy medications can work wonders for managing seasonal allergy problems. Your doctor/allergist should formulate a plan of action to treat seasonal allergic rhinitis (hay fever). If you don't have a plan, talk to your doctor as soon as you can. If you wait for the first sign of allergy nasal symptoms (runny nose, sneezing, itching etc.) you may not be able to manage the allergy season as well.

    You see, waiting for the first allergy symptoms is like trying to keep a horse in the barn by quickly closing the door shut, after you see the horse bolting towards the threshold. You just might get run over in the process. Sometimes allergy symptoms seem to run you over.

    Here are five tips on how to prepare the allergy tree season:

     1) Identify your specific allergy triggers. Certain tree species pollinate at specific times during the course of the year, depending on the region of the country and weather patterns. Find out the specific trees you are allergic to if possible. For example, if you live in the Chicago area and are allergic to cottonwood tree, March and April would be the target months to prepare for. In order to plan ahead you require allergy testing.

    2) Discuss your desires to plan ahead for seasonal allergy with your doctor. Ask your specialist or doctor what specific antihistamines and / or nasal steroid sprays are best for you?

    3) Remember to keep you windows at home closed and your car windows up, in order to minimize you exposure to pollen once the season is underway.

    4) If you use antihistamine eye drops for seasonal allergy, put the drops in your eyes about 20-30 minutes before leaving your home. This gives the medication time to work.

    5) Have your nasal spray technique reviewed by your doctor. If you are not using it at the right time, or you are aiming it in the wrong direction (inside your nose) you may markedly reduce its effectiveness (and increase the likelihood of nasal bleeding). See below.

  • Final Words:

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    Seasonal allergy is often easier to manage compared to perennial allergy (year round allergy problems). Planning ahead, along with making a few simple adjustments regarding when and how to use medications can make a major difference for seasonal allergy sufferers.

    Learn more about how to troubleshoot your allergy plan here:
    3 Reasons Your Hay fever Treatment May Be Failing

    This link provides more detail about the proper use of prescribed nasal sprays:
    How Good Is Your Nasal Spray Technique?

Published On: March 08, 2010