Springtime Allergies

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Summary & Participants

Millions suffer from springtime allergies. But experts do have a handle on what sufferers can do to cope with this common problem. Allergies no longer need to ruin anyone's springtime fun.

Medically Reviewed On: July 21, 2012

Webcast Transcript

ANNOUNCER: Springtime usually means enjoying the outdoors after a long cold winter. But for some people just being outside in the spring can mean trouble.

LYNETTE BASSIE: I had itchy eyes, runny nose. My throat was itching also. I had sneezing, a whole bunch of stuff, you know.

ANNOUNCER: Lynette Bassie is among the 40 million people in the United States who suffer from allergies. In the springtime they're often caused by grass and trees.

GILLIAN SHEPHERD, MD: Most commonly, people are allergic to tree pollen in the springtime, grass in the spring through summer and then ragweed and other weed pollens in the fall. And almost any tree is capable of inducing allergic reaction if you're programmed that way.

ANNOUNCER: But while the causes differ, allergy sufferers share a host of uncomfortable symptoms.

STEPHANIE GURLAND: Initially my symptoms were just exhaustion; I slept a lot. And I was -- I never really breathed through my nose; I breathed through my mouth.

LYNETTE BASSIE: I feel like pulling my hair out. I was going crazy. I was going crazy with the sneezing and the constant coughing. It was really terrible.

GILLIAN SHEPHERD, MD: I use the "F" words, because they always come in and complain that they're in a Fog, their head feels Full, their thinking is Fuzzy, they're always Fatigued, and those are general symptoms that people will put up with.

BETH CORN, MD: If someone has a cold for more than two weeks, it's usually not a cold. And that's when they would go see a doctor.

ANNOUNCER: Sometimes the doctor will do allergy tests to see what might be causing the symptoms.

BETH CORN, MD: What that involved is just wiping off the skin and introducing -- with a needle -- a small amount of the proteins from the specific grass and trees from that particular area where a person lives.

And you look to see if there is what we call a "wheal and flare" response. If there is a little red bump that develops ten or fifteen minutes after the allergen, the protein is introduced underneath the skin. If there is a reaction like that, then that's consistent with allergy.

ANNOUNCER: Once diagnosed, a person with allergies can help themselves by becoming more aware of their surroundings -- like keeping track of the pollen count.

GILLIAN SHEPHERD, MD: The pollen count is a measure of how much pollen is actually in the air at any time. It does help some people to know that if the pollen counts are very high they should consider taking preventive medicine before they go outside during the day.

ANNOUNCER: And while there's no changing what's in the air, there are ways to change how much it affects you.

GILLIAN SHEPHERD, MD: The environment you're in, if you have springtime allergies, is absolutely critical. First the obvious, if you're inside versus outside, inside will have far less pollen assuming that it is tree pollen in the springtime.

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