Getting a reaction: Proactive measures can help ease some seasonal allergy symptoms

  • Published
  • By Holly Logan-Arrington
  • Robins Public Affairs
Ah, spring is in the air... and so is pollen. With Middle Georgia recently being blanketed with the yellow, powdery substance, many are feeling its effects with itchy, watery eyes, scratchy throats and runny noses. 

Capt. (Dr.) Mark Peterson, with the 78th Medical Group, said allergies vary, especially in Georgia.

"There are multiple causes of allergies to include seasonal which would be during certain times of the year and would be due to pollens with trees and flowers being higher in the spring, grasses in the summer and weeds in the fall," he said.   

There's some overlap of all of these times though, Peterson said. In Georgia, spring pollens usually start         in mid-February. 

Year-round allergens like dust mites, pets, molds and cockroaches add yet another layer of problems for allergy sufferers.

While there's no cure for allergies, Peterson said there are steps one can take to ease symptoms.

"Using nasal saline will often help, but usually doesn't fully take care of all of the symptoms," he said. "Other than the preventative measures for year-round allergens, there is nothing natural that can be done other than reducing exposure."

Peterson - who received training in diagnosing and treating seasonal allergies, and provides limited allergy care under the supervision of the regional allergist at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. - said keeping windows closed to keep pollen out of the house and using air filters that are changed frequently can help reduce contact with outdoor allergens. 

Since there's no way to completely avoid allergens, Peterson said over-the-counter medicines can be a good way to get some temporary relief.

Nasal steroid sprays, when used daily during the season allergens are problematic, are the most effective treatment, but they usually take about two weeks to take effect, Peterson said. 

Antihistamines also provide relief, but usually take more time to work if the person has waited until after symptoms occurred to use them.

"There's nothing that can be done to prevent a person from getting allergies, but if you have known seasonal allergies then treatment should be started with an anti-histamine or nasal steroid spray before the season starts and continued through that season," Peterson said.  

For year-round allergens, taking preventative measures like keeping pets out of the home to limit pet-related allergy symptoms, using mattress covers to avoid contact with dust mites, and taking other proactive steps can lessen the physical impact of allergens, Peterson said.

Additionally, decreasing the amount of carpet in the home, vacuuming frequently, reducing stuffed animals or and other dust-collecting items, as well as keeping   humidity in the home to less than 50 percent, can help minimize allergy symptoms, Peterson said.

Peterson said people can develop allergies at any point in life. 

"You can go for years without allergies and then have them develop," he said. "Typically allergies to pollens will not develop unless there has been prior exposure to the allergen, thus if there is a pollen in an area that was not in a previous location it will take one year of exposure and then on the subsequent year is when the allergy could develop."

Whether you have allergies or the potential to develop them, arm yourself with information at