Times Chronicle & Public Spirit
SEASON OF SUFFERING
It’s that time of year for those who fall prey to springtime allergies. A Berks allergist offers ways to fight back.
Spring has sprung and most people are looking forward to venturing back out into the great outdoors for exercise and recreation. But for seasonal allergy sufferers, airborne pollens have the potential to knock the spring right out of your step.
The struggle is real for many people.
“It certainly can be very debilitating,” said Dr. Aparna Daley of Tullyview Allergy, Wyomissing. “And being an allergist, we’re in a position where we actually can see and appreciate this.”
Daley said when people think of general comorbid conditions, there’s a tendency to underestimate the impact of allergies. But feeling sick or unwell can not only affect your overall health, it can lead to lost work days and corresponding declines in productivity.
Also, uncontrolled allergies may lead to exacerbations in patients with other chronic conditions such as asthma, so controlling allergies is going to improve patients’ quality of life and ease the effects of other conditions, as well.
Allergies or COVID?
Daley said that with the pandemic raging, some sufferers might be confused as to whether they have allergies or COVID-19.
With COVID, she said, symptoms typically include things like fever, chills and body ache, which you don’t necessarily see with allergies.
Seasonal allergy symptoms normally include runny nose, sneezing, watering and/or itchy eyes, and post-nasal drip.
She advised anybody concerned about overlapping
symptoms to consult their primary care practitioner to rule out COVID.
Unfortunately, allergy sufferers could be in for a long haul. This is the season for trees to pollinate, and as we get into the summer, the grass tends to pollinate. Then, moving toward fall, weeds become the culprit — typically ragweed.
“What we typically hear from our patients is symptoms tend to worsen for a lot of them with tree sensitizations in the spring,” Daley said. “It really depends on what they’re allergic to.”
Daley said that short of
medicating, there are basic steps allergy sufferers can take short to ease their symptoms, including keeping doors and windows closed and showering after outdoor activity.
As for medications, overthe-counter antihistamines and intranasal corticosteroid sprays are usually the first line of defense.
But some people may need to see an allergist to get their symptoms under control.
“What I usually recommend is having allergy testing is very helpful and relatively easy to do,” she said. “We certainly do encourage evaluation, and then treatment can be tailored to different patients.”
There is one other step
sufferers could take, but depending upon which side of the divide you’re on, you may not want to hear this: Daley said wearing face masks outdoors can be helpful to allergy sufferers.
“Interestingly, it does seem to help a lot of patients who would not normally be wearing a mask who find that especially if they are allergic to pollen, it does seem to help them in terms of reducing that exposure,” she said. “So I guess there’s more than one benefit from (wearing a mask).”
Daley said her office has been very busy so far this year, but it’s too early to tell
if whether it’s going to be an especially bad year for allergies.
That largely hinges on the weather. Dry, windy days (and seasons) tend to be super-spreaders of pollen.
Apart from that, there are other variables:
• A late freeze can delay tree pollen.
• Rain can have varying effects: It can wash away pollens, but rain in the late fall or winter can increase tree pollen.
A native of Rhode Island who grew up in South Africa, Daley completed her allergy and immunology fellowship last June at Penn State Hershey Medical Center.
She said Tullyview, one
of only two allergists in the county, focuses on patient care and patient education. She and Dr. Edward Skorpinski treat a variety of conditions, including people who have environmental allergies, food allergies, asthma, immuno-deficiencies, frequent infections and hives.
“We are pretty passionate allergists, so we’re keen to help where possible,” she said.
If you are on the fence about having allergy testing, she offered this word of caution:
“With global warming, we’re likely to see worsening of seasonal allergies. So if one takes a long-term view, that is likely to affect everyone.”