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Do You Suffer From Seasonal Allergies?

Pollen, dust mites, mold, and animal dander are the most common causes of allergic rhinitis. Knowing your triggers is an important first step to helping control your symptoms.

Listen today as Jasmine Pega, certified registered nurse practitioner at Meritus health, discusses the most common allergies, how to identify your triggers, and what you can do to help control your symptoms.
Do You Suffer From Seasonal Allergies?
Featured Speaker:
Jasmine Pega, CRNP
Jasmine Pega, CRNP earned her Master’s of Science degree in nursing from Shenandoah University in Winchester, Va. She is board certified by the American Association of Nurse Practitioners.

Learn more about Jasmine Pega, CRNP
Transcription:

Melanie Cole (Host): Pollen, dust mites, mold, and animal dander are the most common causes of allergic rhinitis. Known your triggers is an important first step in helping control your symptoms. My guest today is Jasmine Pega. She’s a Certified Registered Nurse Practitioner at Meritus Health. Welcome to the show, Jasmine. When we speak about allergies and seasonal allergies what times of the year are we looking at and what are some of the symptoms that people might be aware of that could discern whether it’s a cold or whether it’s an allergy?

Jasmine Pega (Guest): Thank you, so much. The time of the year – usually seasonal allergies happen with certain seasons, such as -- usually it begins in Spring, so February, and lasts until early summer. Sometimes mild winter temperatures, like the winter we just had can also cause plants to pollenate early. In that case, it can start in early February, and it can last all the way up until Fall.

Melanie: Is it possible to develop these allergies as an adult if you did not have them as a child?

Jasmine: It’s possible, but usually allergies tend to develop in children and maybe even young adults, but once you have allergies in childhood and young adulthood, you tend to have it for life. Some people get better as they get older and some people get worse over time.

Melanie: So if we start to come up --

Jasmine: And allergies also run in families, so genetics plays a part, too.

Melanie: That’s very interesting. If we start to come up with some of these symptoms and we’re not sure whether it’s a cold or allergies, if it happens every year at the same time, then you can kind of know it’s an allergy, yes?

Jasmine: Correct.

Melanie: What do we do about them?

Jasmine: Some of the ways to reduce your exposure to certain things or triggers – so let’s talk about triggers first. Some of the triggers can be like you said earlier, trees, grass, ragweed, mold, pollen, those kinds of things can trigger allergic symptoms. To prevent allergies, if you know that you’re one that has seasonal allergies or one that gets allergic rhinitis often, unfortunately staying indoors on dry and windy days helps. The best time to go outside is usually after a good rain because that helps clear the pollen from the air. Try to ever-so-gently, delegate lawn-mowing to other family members -- and weed pulling and other gardening chores -- because that can stir allergens up into the air and if you breathe them, then you get your allergic rhinitis and your allergic symptoms. Remove clothes that you’ve worn outside before you get inside. Shower all the pollen away from your skin and your hair, especially if you’ve been working outside in the garden. Don’t hang your clothes or your laundry outside because pollen can stick to sheets and towels. If you’re one that really enjoys working outside and you must do that, I would also recommend maybe wearing a pollen mask. It’s also important, or also may be helpful to check your local TV or radio stations or newspaper or even internet to check the forecast ahead during the Spring season to see when your pollen counts are elevated so that you can avoid those days being outside.

Melanie: That’s excellent advice. How do you know what it is that you’re allergic to? Are there certain tests you can have?

Jasmine: If you have symptoms you can go to your primary care doctor, and they might do an assessment first to differentiate whether you have seasonal allergies. Also, there is some trigger testing that’s done at the allergist’s office that you can test to see what you’re allergic to. That way you can either prevent them or treat them accordingly.

Melanie: You’ve given us some great tips about identifying those triggers outside. Now, what about inside when we think of things like mold or dust mites coming inside the house. Do some of the things we hear about, Jasmine, work like air filters or any of those kinds of things, do they work?

Jasmine: Yes. Some of the triggers that you might have inside like you said are some insect allergies like dust mites or cockroaches. Some people might be allergic to cats and dogs, and then you also have mold. Cleaning the air, that does help. Once you identify what your allergens are, then you can – so if you’re allergic to cats or dogs, then removing those allergens will help. Vacuuming and keeping your house clean from dust helps. Trying to get somebody to check your house for mold – those are the things that help indoors.

Melanie: Aside from trying all of these things -- identifying our triggers, making sure to shower the pollen off our hair and our clothes, all of these things -- we see so many products on the market -- on the shelf, decongestants, and pseudoephedrine, and allergy pills -- how do we know which of these is going to work, and what do you tell people when they ask you about all of the allergy medications out there?

Jasmine: A lot of the allergy meds are patient-specific – what works for one person may not work for the other person. Depending on the severity of the patient’s allergies -- allergic symptoms, we try certain things. Some of the treatment options are decongestants, oral antihistamines, saline nasal washes. If it’s severe enough, we do allergy shots, or allergy pills – that usually happens at an allergist’s office, but steroid nasal sprays, those are some of the things that can help that we recommend.

Melanie: Now you mentioned a nasal cleanser or a nasal lavage, do those things work? Do they really give your nose a shower? And how to you get your kids to try one of those?

Jasmine: It does work because it rinses out the nose – it rinses out all the pollen that might be stuck inside the nares, so in that sense it does help. Now, with children, that might be a harder task to do. Depending on the age of the child, that might not be something that would be appropriate for them. With children, trying to avoid -- getting them during allergy season – trying to wash them after they’ve been out, trying to keep the air clean and dry inside the house might be more helpful. And antihistamines, if it’s appropriate for them, might be a better option for children.

Melanie: So wrap it up for us, Jasmine, can we prevent this allergic rhinitis, or allergies, seasonal allergies? Is there any way to prevent them? Give us your best advice about dealing with them if we do have them.

Jasmine: Prevention-wise, if you’re one that gets the symptoms the same time every year, then you know when to expect them. That’s the time of the year you want to be careful with staying indoors, especially right before the symptom start for you, keeping your car windows and house windows closed. Try to use air conditioning instead of opening up the windows during high pollen count season. Taking a shower before bed to rinse all of the pollen off of your hair and your skin, wearing a mask, again, if you need to be outside. Those are some of the things that can help prevent it.

Now, if you’re one that gets them sporadically or all throughout the year, definitely talk to your doctor to see if there’s any medicine that you can be placed on to minimize those symptoms to help you get better quickly, or to at least keep those symptoms at bay, so you’re not so miserable.

Melanie: Thank you, so much, Jasmine. That’s really great information, especially at this time of year. You’re listening to Your Health Matters with Meritus Health, and for more information, you can go to MeritusHealth.com, that’s MeritusHealth.com. This is Melanie Cole. Thanks for listening.