By: Justin Ceravolo, PharmD, pharmacist at Cypress Pharmacy
It’s that time of year again – the sniffling, sneezing and suffering of allergy season caused by the telltale yellow dust that blankets Southwest Florida for months.
With longer and warmer seasons each year, the spring and fall pollen is literally and figuratively growing worse. Right now, the biggest offenders like tree pollen, grass pollen and ragweed pollen are blowing through our breezy coastal region.
These tiny airborne allergens easily get inside your body, and when they do, your immune system goes into defense mode. To combat these intruding allergens, your body releases a chemical, called histamine, which triggers a familiar response you might recognize: sneezing, itchy throat, runny nose or teary eyes.
If you are an allergy sufferer, you are not alone. According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundations of America, more than 50 million people struggle with it every year.
In its latest 2021 Allergy Capitals report, AAFA placed a Southwest Florida region on its top 50 list of most challenging places to live with seasonal allergies. Cape Coral was ranked No. 33 for allergies during spring season and No. 35 for the months during fall.
So, what can you do if you struggle with seasonal allergies and Southwest Florida is your home? A few proactive steps to recognize, prevent and manage symptoms will bring hope to those with the seasonal stuffy blues.
Reduce Your Exposure
- Before planning your day, check local news or the Internet for the area’s pollen count forecast.
- Keep doors and windows shut to avoid pollen from coming indoors.
- Delegate outdoor chores, such as mowing the lawn and gardening.
- Keep floors cleaned and maintain air filters inside the home.
- Avoid air-drying clothes and bedding outside where pollen can stick to it.
Prevent Spread & Symptoms
- If high pollen counts are forecasted, take allergy medication before symptoms start.
- After outdoor activities, change into clean clothes and shower to rinse pollen from skin and hair.
- Remove shoes, jackets and hats at the front door.
- Wipe pets down with a towel after playing outdoors.
- Wear a pollen or dust mask for outdoor activities.
Nonprescription Medication & Remedies
- Oral antihistamines can help relieve sneezing, itching and runny noses.
- Antihistamine eye drops can reduce itching and redness.
- Specially formulated supplements may support healthy respiratory and immune systems.
- Nasal rinse devices, such as a Neti pot, can flush out inhaled pollen and alleviate congestion.
- Oral and nasal decongestants can offer temporary relief to help with nasal stuffiness.
- Cromolyn sodium nasal sprays can help treat and prevent allergy symptoms.
When stubborn symptoms persist, your pharmacist or physician can identify which over-the-counter medicines are best suited to alleviate your symptoms. They can also help you navigate your options when more severe conditions must be addressed.
Treatment options to manage allergies can range from immunotherapy, such as shots, to prescription-strength antihistamines, decongestants and combination allergy drugs.
In addition, rescue inhalers and other medications can be prescribed for people diagnosed with allergy-induced asthma.
Amid the pandemic, a case of the sniffles, or hay fever, is the last thing you want to stress over. While allergies can’t be cured, they can certainly be managed. Having a seasonal action plan that attacks allergies first is a good place to start, and will keep you from playing catch-up once symptoms arise.