Whether you like it or not allergy season is here. Allergies can happen year-round, but this time of year it’s especially rough because of wind-borne pollinating plants, including trees, grass, and weeds.
“They produce pollen that is light and released in large quantities that can be easily inhaled. That includes tree pollens from spring to early summer, grasses which pollinate most commonly in the late spring into summer, and weeds which affect allergic individuals from late summer into autumn,” SolutionHealth’s Dr. Amitha Harish, who works at Southern New Hampshire Health System, explains.
Allergic rhinitis is a group of symptoms affecting the nose. When a sensitive person inhales an allergen, the body’s immune system may react with several symptoms including:
- Stuffy nose due to blockage or congestion
- Itching, usually in the nose, mouth, eyes, or throat
- Puffy, swollen eyelids
- Sneezing and coughing
- In certain people, it can even trigger asthma symptoms
If you’re experiencing a runny or stuff nose and a fever, it could be a sinus infection. Sinus infections are caused by bacteria or viruses, not by allergies. However, untreated allergies could make them worse.
The COVID-19 pandemic has some confusing their allergies for the disease. “While there can be some overlap of symptoms, COVID-19 commonly presents with fevers, cough, shortness of breath, and muscle aches, that combination of symptoms is not typical for seasonal allergies,” Dr. Harish explains. If you have asthma and allergies and are having a hard time distinguishing your symptoms, contact your doctor.
Treating allergies can be easy. Dr. Harish explains, “knowing your triggers will allow your allergist to personalize a treatment plan best suited for you.”
There are a variety of over-the-counter options available—including antihistamines, nasal sprays, and eye drops.
For patients who prefer avoiding long-term medication use or have uncontrolled symptoms, you may be a candidate for immunotherapy, frequently referred to as “allergy shots.” Immunotherapy involves giving gradually increasing doses of the substance, or allergen, to which the person is allergic. The incremental increases of the allergen cause the immune system to become less sensitive to the substance, or allergen. It can also reduce the inflammation that characterizes rhinitis and asthma.
Current data shows it’s safe to use nasal and inhaled corticosteroids to manage asthma and allergic rhinitis during the pandemic. Dr. Harish says it’s probably even more important right now for patients to use these medications.
“While COVID-19 has brought to light the presence of a very frightening pandemic nationally and within our own communities, routine medical conditions should not be ignored. Keeping yourself and your family healthy is more important than ever. Know that your healthcare professionals are here for you and we will help you navigate and treat your conditions during this challenging time,” Dr. Harish says.
Providers across SolutionHealth are seeing patients both via telemedicine and are reopening for in-person appointments. To learn more visit:
Elliot Health System
Southern New Hampshire Health