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April 13, 2013

MHP educates on spring allergies

OSKALOOSA — The first day of spring was just a few weeks ago, which means that allergies are here. Mahaska Health Partnership wants you to know how to combat your seasonal allergies and enjoy the great outdoors as the weather warms up.

According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, spring is the time of year when plants begin blooming and pollen is released into the air. Pollen triggers allergic symptoms such as runny nose, sneezing, nasal congestion and itchy, watery eyes in some individuals.

“There are countless spring allergens that flare symptoms,” said MHP Allergy and Pediatric Pulmonologist Ron Graeff, MD. “Common allergy triggers include trees and grass pollen, plus outdoor mold. Year-round symptoms may flare with dust mites and pet dander exposure.”

The ACAAI says that finding out exactly what you’re allergic to is the first step in effectively treating your allergy symptoms. The quickest and most accurate way to find out what you are allergic to is by having an allergy skin test. This test involves pricking the surface of the skin with diluted allergen samples. The area is then monitored for about 15 minutes to see if red, raised, itchy bumps develop.

“Allergy testing not only tells us what you are allergic to, but also how severe the allergy is,” said Dr. Graeff. “The larger the size of the redness and swelling, the greater the sensitivity a person has to the allergen.”

In some cases, spring allergies can be managed with over-the-counter antihistamines or decongestants. In more severe cases, your doctor or allergist may suggest a prescription medication, but control of the environment is the key. Consult your primary care provider or allergist.

“Once you know what you are allergic to, controlling and managing the symptoms becomes much easier,” shared Dr. Graeff. “If you have allergies to tree pollen, your symptoms will be worse on breezy days and better on rainy days. Check the pollen count before you go out and be sure you change your clothes and shoes when you come in. Stay prepared by taking your allergy medications regularly.”

For more information on spring allergies or to schedule an appointment with one of MHP’s allergy experts, call (641) 672-3360. Finding out what you are allergic to is the first step to effective allergy relief and management.

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