Selected Podcast

Seasonal Allergy Solutions

Fall can be the worst time of year for people with seasonal allergies. According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation up to 40 million Americans suffer with seasonal allergies. Along with cooler weather and changing foliage, weeds and other plants release pollen into the air and outdoor molds grow under fallen leaves. These can be triggers for those who suffer from seasonal allergies.

Narges Mazloom, DO is here to explain how to identify your triggers, and adapt with lifestyle modicfications so you can better manage your seasonal allergies.
Seasonal Allergy Solutions
Featured Speaker:
Narges Mazloom, DO
Narges Mazloom, DO specialties include Otolaryngology - Ear, Nose and Throat.

Learn more about Narges Mazloom, DO
Transcription:

Melanie Cole (Host): Fall can be the worst time of the year for people with seasonal allergies. According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation, up to 40 million Americans suffer with seasonal allergies. My guest today is Dr. nargesMazloom. She’s an otolaryngologist with Florida Hospital. Welcome to the show, Dr. Mazloom. So, tell us about seasonal allergies and how would somebody know, because as the fall comes, some people think it’s a cold or they think it’s something else. How would you know if it’s allergies, seasonal allergies, as they come up?

Dr. Narges Mazloom (Guest): Well, first of all, I want to thank you, Melanie, for having me today. To answer your question, patients who do have some allergy symptoms, are going to suffer from symptoms such as itchy eyes, red eyes, watery eyes, nasal congestion, drippy, watery nose, post-nasal drainage. Sometimes they can also have a cough that goes along with it, and if they do have a history of asthma, they may also have some wheezing and tightness in the chest. Occasionally, it is difficult to distinguish between a viral upper respiratory infection versus an allergy. However, if you do not come down with a fever, muscle aches, joint aches, and otherwise are pretty much feeling okay except for those other symptoms that I listed, it’s most likely an allergy.

Melanie: Do you have to be tested for seasonal allergies? People hear about allergy testing and all the shots. Do you test for seasonal allergies or if somebody comes up with these symptoms and it isn’t a cold or a respiratory infection, you assume that’s what it is?

Dr. Mazloom: Well, the most important start to investigating the patient’s underlying condition would be a history and a physical exam. By history, if they basically have these recurrent, episodic symptoms that come on certain times of the year, then it does point towards more of an allergy as the cause of their symptoms, and then we also do an examination. There are certain things on the exam that can definitely point toward it being more of an allergic reaction. However, in order to be able to clinch that diagnosis, sometimes it is necessary to be able to do testing to confirm that allergies are actually the cause of the symptoms. And, when we do testing, there’s different forms of testing as well. The initial one is we can do a blood test which is an indirect test where we check the blood levels of specific antigens in the body, and then there’s also skin testing which we can know exactly how reactive they are to those items that we test. So, both of those are really good tools that we use to be able to confirm allergy.

Melanie: So, then, do we look for triggers? Do you want to be able to identify those triggers so they can avoid them? Because in the fall, depending where you live, it’s hard to avoid some of these triggers.

Dr. Mazloom: Oh, absolutely. When it’s a seasonal allergy, it’s basically the pollens that are in the air. You don’t have to be directly on top of the plant itself for you to be exposed to it. These pollens are carried in the air, by wind, and you inhale them. They are tiny particles and you don’t see these particles. So, avoidance is very difficult. If you are severely allergic, trying to stay indoors and use the HEPA filters to help purify the air can help. However, again, when you do go out or open the window, you’re going to get exposed to those pollens. Now, there are other allergens that are inside your home that you are, obviously, not going to be able to avoid such as dust, pet dander, mold, things like that that basically avoidance is almost impossible.

Melanie: Do things like air purifiers, dehumidifiers, any of those, work?

Dr. Mazloom: Air purifiers definitely do help. Changing your filter system within the home and using a good HEPA filter is going to be important to be able to filter out that air that’s being brought in from the outside so that it decreases the exposure load. It’s not going to eliminate it all but it will help decrease the load.

Melanie: Does an antihistamine work? What’s the medicational intervention for seasonal allergies, Dr. Mazloom?

Dr. Mazloom: Definitely antihistamines are the “go to” drug. They do block that histamine reaction which is that initial or basically the key reaction that creates the symptoms that you feel such as the runny nose and the congestion and everything. The newer medications that are over-the-counter now are the nasal sprays. There are the steroid nasal sprays that are over-the-counter which are very helpful in controlling the nasal and some of the ocular symptoms. There are prescription medications that can also be given which--one class is called a “leukotriene receptor antagonist”. One of them is called--Singulair is the brand name. And, that’s an additional medication we can use to help the patient’s symptoms.

Melanie: And, how often can you use those inhalers?

Dr. Mazloom: The nasal sprays are pretty well tolerated. Some patients need to be on them chronically, and then, they’re pretty well tolerated as long as you know how to use them properly. Some do cause side effects such as dryness in the nose and nose bleeds. Some patients may get some headaches, but there are other ones that we can switch to if they do have some symptoms like that. So, they are pretty well tolerated and safe to use.

Melanie: And, what about some of the home remedies you hear about like nasal lavage. Do you think that those help?

Dr. Mazloom: Absolutely. The nasal lavages actually help clear out the load that you’ve inhaled and it’s coating the mucosa of the nose. You can help by washing them out and decreasing that load therefore decreasing the amount the body has to fight against. So, they do help, definitely. But, again, not one thing will take care of all the symptoms.

Melanie: And, if you get those itchy eyes, are there eye drops on the market, Dr. Mazloom, that help with that or should you stay away from eye drops? Do they become, not addicting, but like an antihistamine where you use them a lot?

Dr. Mazloom: Yes, there are definitely over-the-counter antihistamine eye drops, There are prescription antihistamine eye drops as well. So, they do help. You don’t want to, obviously, have to rely on them every single day. And, if you are a patient who does suffer from allergies on a regular basis like that, then perhaps getting evaluated with allergy testing and perhaps even considering immunotherapy, which most people know as allergy shots, that maybe the better route for you so that you don’t have to be constantly on medications, and get a cure from your allergic reaction so that you don’t have to use the medications as often. Now, I don’t know if many people are aware that in addition to the more well known shots for allergies, there are also sublingual drops available by some physicians that do provide them. That would mean no shots. You just put drops underneath the tongue and have to avoid the--you don’t have to get the needle.

Melanie: How fascinating. So, wrap it up for us, Dr. Mazloom, about seasonal allergies, what you tell people every single day about identifying those triggers, and helping them to get through that season?

Dr. Mazloom: Definitely. So, patients who are suffering from those symptoms of the congestion, the runny nose, itchy eyes, watery eyes, if they have a suspicion that this could be an allergic reaction and they’re not quite certain if it’s an infection or allergies, it’s best to be seen by their physician to have that evaluated and properly started on the right medication. If they do suffer from allergies, for most ,it’s not all the year, then being tested for allergies would be an important next step and considering immunotherapy to help them become cured, in a sense, from their allergies, would be something to definitely consider. In the meantime, they can certainly try antihistamines that are over the counter, as well as nasal steroid sprays and speaking with their doctor to be able to know which medications might best help their symptoms.

Melanie: Thank you so much for being with us. It’s great information. You're listening to Health Chat by Florida Hospital. And for more information, you can go to www.hcpphysicians.org. That’s www.hcpphysicians.org. This is Melanie Cole. Thanks so much for listening.