For allergy sufferers in Southwest Florida, the high pollen counts are nothing to sneeze at. And this allergy season is one of the worst so far for high pollen counts stemming from local trees, flowering plants and grasses.
The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America reports that approximately 40 million Americans have indoor and outdoor allergies as their primary allergy. Another 10 million people are allergic to cat dander, which is the most common pet allergy. Other common allergy triggers are trees, grass, weed pollen, mold spores, dust mite, and cockroach allergens, stemming from cockroach droppings, cockroach exoskeletons, dog, and even rodent dander.
In search of solutions to seasonal allergies, sniffles and sneezes, the Collier Citizen met with Patrick M. Reidy and Samuel L. Hill, doctors at Florida Gulf Coast Ear, Nose and Throat, to understand and prevent seasonal allergies from occurring.
“This time of year, we’re seeing trees as the most common allergy triggers here,” said Reidy. “When it rains here, we see spikes of mold, too.”
As a board certified and fellowship trained expert in otolaryngology and in head and neck surgery, Reidy and his team provide environmental control suggestions for both inside and outside of the home to prevent exposure to allergens.
In order to reduce exposures to pollens outside, the following steps are recommended by Reidy:
• Know your specific allergies and pay attention to pollen reports on a daily basis.
• If your symptoms from pollen are severe, wear a mask outdoors to limit exposure.
• It is recommended that you place a HEPA filter indoors, and in your car to help reduce concentrations of pollens.
• Oftentimes, environmental control measures for pollens are not practical. If you have allergies to multiple types of plants, allergy medications and allergy shots are recommended.
Taking a closer look at preventing pollen particles indoors can also capture culprits of spring time allergies.
“If people go outside when the pollen counts are high, they should go inside and shower right away. I also recommend using a nasal saline spray every day. There’s also things they can do inside the house, such as keeping windows closed when the pollen counts are high, and exiting their house through the garage to minimize what can get into their home,” said Reidy.
Daily pollen counts can easily be found in the local newspaper and online.
Higher pollen counts also mean more allergy sufferers running to the pharmacy for over-the-counter medications, but Reidy cautions if the allergy medications work, the improvement should be seen immediately.
“Within the first five days of taking the medication, it should help, if they’re taking it daily,” Reidy explains. Otherwise, after five days of over-the-counter medications, it may be time to see a professional if allergies persist.
Taking successful measures to prevent pollen from entering the home can be accomplished by installing HEPA filters. HEPA stands for “High-Efficiency Particulate Air,” and the filters can be found in local drug stores, department stores, and many places on the Internet.
Reidy and his team say the most important room in the home for a HEPA filter is the bedroom, but said that a HEPA filter can be placed in the living room areas as well, especially where pet allergies exist.
“Vacuuming and cleaning, and properly maintaining animals also helps,” Reidy said, in keeping seasonal allergy triggers at bay.
To learn more about allergy prevention go to www.aafa.org or visit www.FloridaGulfCoastENT.com.