March 24, 2014 at 1:53 PM
Vital Stats: An estimated 50 million Americans suffer from all types of allergies.
Source: Montefiore Medical Center
By the Norwood News
As winter ends and spring begins, folks may want to get out of the house to take a stroll about leafy East Mosholu Parkway or Van Cortlandt Park. But spring equals allergy season, resulting in symptoms ranging from itchy eyes, nose and throat, to sneezing or runny nose.
“The symptoms people experience often resemble a common cold, but if it happens every year at this time, it’s most likely allergies,” said David Rosenstreich, M.D., director of the Division of Allergy and Immunology at Montefiore Medical Center.
An allergy expert for MMC, Rosenstreich has noticed an uptick in the number of allergy cases throughout his 34-year history with the hospital. His prognosis: allergies are inevitable. “Everyone inherits the tendencies to allergies, that you can’t do anything about,” he said.
Symptoms result from an overactive immune system, which mistakes pollen for a foreign invader. Asthmatics are affected by allergies and may have dangerous or even life-threatening asthma attacks.
Over-the-counter medications often make allergy sufferers feel better, but if they experience difficulty breathing or the symptoms become severe, they should call a doctor. Antihistamine drugs work by blocking the histamine from affecting these cells. A physician can prescribe stronger medications if needed.
“By taking medicine early, you can prevent the symptoms before they begin,” Rosenstreich said. “If you start after the symptoms are in full swing, it’s much harder to stop the allergic reaction than to prevent it from the beginning.”
Lifestyle changes also can help relieve symptoms. That includes:
- Limiting outdoor activities during days with high pollen counts.
· Keeping windows closed (at home or in the car) to keep pollen out.
· Installing air conditioners early to help filter outside air that comes into your home.
· Washing your hair after coming indoors.
· Refraining from yard work because this stirs up pollen and molds.
Tree pollination has begun, lasting through early June. Grass, weeds and ragweed can produce pollen, resulting in allergies.
“There’s no reason for people with allergies to suffer,” Rosenstreich said. “As long as you take the proper precautions, you should be able to enjoy the outdoors and make the most of the warm weather.”