The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

May 15, 2014

Allergy season is in full bloom

By Amy Kent Herald Staff Writer
The Clinton Herald

---- — CLINTON — More than 17 million Americans suffer from allergic rhinitis, a medical condition that can cause nasal congestion, itchy and watery eyes and sometimes severe respiratory challenges in people with asthma.

For those who suffer from allergies, spring can be the worst time of the year because while the moisture increases and the temperature rises, flowers and trees begin to bloom. With their blossoming, they release pollen, one of the most common allergens seen in the medical profession.

Dr. Melanie Giesler, an ear, nose and throat, facial plastics and allergy specialist at Medical Associates, knows all too well the challenges of allergies and the affect they have on the patients who suffer from them every season.

“This is a terrible time of year,” Giesler said. “Spring is tree allergy season, when their pollen is active and all of the trees are budding. It’s hitting its peak right about now, and it’s also grass allergy season and that will last all summer.”

Seasonal allergies affect nearly 8 percent of the Midwestern population and though many of the symptoms are not life threatening, they do disturb the quality of life for the people who experience them.

But, as medical technology continues to advance, relief from those symptoms are easily accessible and relatively economical.

According to Wagner Pharmacy owner Tim Wright, the majority of medical treatments are now available over the counter and come in a wide variety for specific allergy needs.

“People here are not shy about treating their allergies because of the availability of medication,” Wright said. “The most popular is the antihistamines, Benadryl, Claritin, Zyrtec, and the ones that sell the most are the newer agents like Claritin, Zyrtec and Allegra. Benadryl is still an old standby but people steer away from that because it’s sedating.”

Other treatment options are available as well. People who experience heavy nasal congestion can turn to nasal saline irrigation, or neti pots, which thins mucus and helps flush it out of the nasal passages. Lubricating eye drops are another non-medical, standby that helps relieve itchy and watery eyes.

Although there are a multitude of ways to treat the symptoms of allergies, Giesler said there is little to be done in the way of prevention even though medical professionals are getting better at diagnosing them early. Despite early diagnosis however, the best way to prevent allergies is the way it’s always been — avoid exposure all together.

“Avoidance is the key,” Giesler said. “We can give all the medicine in the world but staying away from the things that cause the allergies is the best way to prevent or deter a reaction.”