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UPMC Expert: Get Ready for Allergy Season

The official start of spring is here — and with that comes the dreaded allergy season. A little more than a quarter of adults in the United States have these seasonal allergies according to the Centers for Disease and Control Prevention (CDC) and can relate to how pesky the symptoms can be.

Once the weather starts warming up, plants begin to show signs of life again. Leaves grow, flowers blossom, and pollen gets released into the air — the biggest culprit for seasonal allergies. In response to these pollens, allergy sufferers may experience the following symptoms:
– A congested or stuffy nose
– Watery, itchy, or red eyes
– Runny nose
– Itchy nose or throat
– Sneezing, sniffling
– Popping ears or ear infections caused by inflammation and fluid backup

It might not only be pollen causing these symptoms too. Dust mites and molds can also contribute, especially in Pennsylvania.

Managing Your Allergies

There are a few things you can do to help keep your allergy symptoms at bay in addition to taking over-the-counter medications like antihistamines. While you can’t avoid pollen 100% of the time, a few changes might make your everyday life in the springtime a little more comfortable.
– Close your windows to keep allergens outside
– Use an air purifier or filter your air through your HVAC
– Keep humidity levels as low as possible
– Wear a mask while doing yardwork
– Wash up after coming indoors
– Clear your nose by flushing the nasal passages with distilled salt water

If you’ve tried these methods in addition to medication, it may be time to contact your primary care provider.
When to See a Health Care Provider

There are more treatments available for severe allergy sufferers. Your doctor might recommend the following:

Prescription antihistamines: Most antihistamines are now over the counter, but some are still only available by prescription.

Nasal sprays: Medications that reduce the swelling in your nose, which cause a stuffy, runny, and itchy nose.
Inhalers: Medications inhaled into the lungs that open your airways. Inhalers can include daily use or rescue inhalers used for immediate symptom relief.

Allergy injections or immunotherapy: A series of injections to desensitize your immune system to the allergens that trigger your symptoms. The goal of the treatment is to retrain the immune system to recognize the allergen as not dangerous, decreasing the frequency or severity of allergy symptoms.

A fever, head and body aches, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea are not considered symptoms of allergies and can mean that something more is going on. It’s important to rule out other sicknesses before thinking that it’s “just allergies,” and your health care provider can help do that.

Allergies can be unpleasant, but your provider can help you determine what is triggering your allergies and develop a treatment plan that works for you. If you have allergy-like symptoms that last more than ten days, it’s time to make an appointment with your health care provider.

by Skye Miller, PA-C
Allergy and Immunology, UPMC

Skye Miller, PA-C, is with UPMC Allergy and Immunology and sees patients at UPMC Williamsport Divine Providence Campus, Wenner Building, 1705 Warren Ave., Williamsport. To schedule an appointment with Skye, call 570-320-7070. For more information, visit