Seasonal Allergies Expected to be Worse Than Normal
This year's spring allergy season is expected to be worse than normal due to the long, cold winter the region experienced, according to John Solic, a pulmonologist with Mount Nittany Physician Group.
"There may be the perception that things are really bad this year because of the sudden warmth, there wasn't a gradual spring with a gradual temperature increase," he says. "When that happens the pollen is much more active, so it's going to hit people all at once instead of a gradual build up."
The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America says six cities in Pennsylvania are in the top 100 communities considered the worst for seasonal allergy sufferers.
The list includes Philadelphia, Allentown, Pittsburgh, Scranton, Harrisburg and Lancaster.
Solic says those suffering from outdoor springtime allergens are likely allergic to tree or grass pollen.
"Windy, warm days make pollen worse, as pollen easily floats through the air. Similarly, on colder, damp days, pollen counts are usually lower," Solic says.
Solic says it is important for allergy sufferers to talk with a doctor about which trees or grass may trigger allergies. Additionally, he says many over-the-counter and prescription medications can help ease allergy symptoms.
"A large portion of Americans test positive for such indoor allergens as dust, mold, or pet dander," Solic says.
In terms of indoor allergens, dust mites are the most common. In order to help curb dust mites, Solic recommends hypoallergenic covers for beds, mattresses, box springs and pillows.
"It's also important to use bedding that is washable, rather than quilts, throws, or comforters that cannot be washed," he says. "Wash your bedding weekly in hot water to kill dust mites."
Other tips for indoor allergy sufferers include keeping pets out of the bedroom.
"Even if you are not allergic to pet dander specifically, pets carry other allergens via their fur, which can present a problem," Solic says.
Additionally, he says keeping carpet and thick curtains at a minimum can minimize allergy-inducing triggers.
"Unfortunately, carpet is a great place for allergens to collect, and floors such as hardwood or laminate are easier to keep clean and allergy-free," Solic says.
An air filter, such as a high-efficiency particulate absorption (HEPA) filter, can also help reduce common allergens in the air, he says.
"If these tricks or over-the-counter medicines don't alleviate your sneezing, coughing and itching, it may be time to speak with a healthcare provider," Solic says. "Family physicians or specialists such as immunologists are great starting points."