Maimonides Expert Offers Tips for Coping with Allergies
The start of Spring is often the onset of seasonal allergies and bothersome symptoms. Dr. Michael Marcus, Director of Allergy and Immunology at Maimonides Medical Center, offers a variety of strategies for coping with symptoms.
“Pollen is one of the main causes of seasonal allergies,” Dr. Marcus notes. "The key to minimizing the impact of your allergies this year is to minimize your exposure to excess pollen."
A recent study released by the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Iиииmmunology, revealed that weather changes have gradually been increasing the pollen count since 2000 – a trend expected to continue for the next thirty years.
According to the Asthma & Allergy Foundation of America, the pollen count is at its highest in urban areas between 10am and 3pm. Dr. Marcus advises taking allergy medication in the morning, instead of waiting until you experience symptoms later in the day. Allergy medications work best preventatively. Once symptoms present themselves, over-the-counter allergy medications are far less effective.
Dr. Marcus suggests trying to delay your outdoor activities to the evening when pollen has subsided.
"Practices that minimize the amount of pollen entering your house are also important," Dr. Marcus explains. “This includes taking shoes off outside, changing clothes, showering at night and keeping windows closed. Animal fur can also trap pollen, so bathing pets more often in the Spring is also advised.”
When preventative measures aren’t enough to lessen your symptoms, there are three broad categories of over-the-counter oral allergy medications to try:
The so-called “first generation antihistamines” includes medications that, while effective, often cause drowsiness. Brand names include Benadryl and Chlortrimeton.
The newer antihistamines typically do not cause the same drowsiness, and thus do not interfere with daytime activities. Medications in this category include loratadine (brand name Claritin) and fexofenadine (brand name Allegra).
A third category of antihistamines includes cetirizine (brand name Zyrtec), which causes less drowsiness than the first-generation antihistamines, but has mild sedation properties.
“Everyone responds to these medications in different ways, so it is very important to be careful and see how your body reacts the first time you take any medicine. If one medication doesn’t work, it’s worth trying another, even within the same category.” Dr. Marcus cautions patients to read labels carefully and make sure the medications are truly comparable.
“If it takes a daily dose of medication to control your symptoms, or if you need two or more medications to do the job, you should try consulting an allergy specialist,” says Dr. Marcus. “A physician can help you decide whether prescription medications, or a different treatment regimen, may be a more effective solution.”
Maimonides Medical Center, an affiliate of Northwell Health, is Brooklyn’s pre-eminent healthcare provider and among the largest independent teaching hospitals in the nation. Widely recognized for its major achievements in advancing medical and information technology, Maimonides has 711 beds and over 70 subspecialty programs. For additional information on the nationally recognized clinical services at Maimonides Medical Center, please visit http://www.maimonidesmed.org/.
Edited by: JV Staff