Certified Nurse Practitioner Kristen Dunlap of Van Wert Family Health spoke on treatment options for those suffering with seasonal allergies. (DHI Media/Kirsten Barnhart)
Certified Nurse Practitioner Kristen Dunlap of Van Wert Family Health spoke on treatment options for those suffering with seasonal allergies. (DHI Media/Kirsten Barnhart)

VAN WERT – As the days get longer, the air warms up, and the grass starts to grow, many begin to feel the effects of seasonal allergies.

“In the past several months, we definitely see an increase in allergy symptoms,” said Certified Nurse Practitioner Kristen Dunlap of Van Wert Health Family Medicine. “People sometimes come in thinking that they are ill but it’s really just allergy symptoms.”

Seasonal allergies can have similar symptoms as the flu or a viral infection. Sneezing, watery eyes, runny nose, a sore throat and coughing can all be symptoms of allergies.

Dunlap said that grass, dust from fields, spores and pollen are several seasonal allergies culprits, but that there is relief for most patients.

“When we know that it is not a bacterial illness and we can nail down the idea that it is seasonal allergies, usually the first recommendation is an antihistamine, which are over the counter for the most part,” said Dunlap. “For prescriptions, usually the glucocorticoid nasal sprays are what we would use.”

Examples of over the counter antihistamines include products like Claritin, Allegra, or Benadryl. However, Dunlap recommends patients avoid Benadryl for daily use as it can make users drowsy.

“Up and above that, if they are still having problems, we always recommend starting Singulair which is a leukotriene modifier,” said Dunlap. “Typically with those medications we can get you under control.”

If patients still are not seeing relief, an allergy test or allergy referral will usually be made.

Aside from medications, patients should avoid the allergen if possible, which may be difficult for those with seasonal allergies who still need to venture outside. Dunlap said certain alternatives can also be used to help decrease allergy symptoms.

“You can also use Neti Pots,” said Dunlap. “The important thing with that is that you don’t use tap water. We need to use boiled or distilled water, warm not hot so we aren’t burning anything, and if you’re going to put salt in it, which is really what you should do, you should use pickling salt, not table salt.”

“The idea is that the salt decreases the inflammation and allows that drainage to come out the other side,” added Dunlap of Neti Pot use.

Dunlap also said that it’s important to make sure users clean their Neti Pot to avoid infections.

Other ways to naturally alleviate the effects of seasonal allergies include wearing a mask while outside, keep house and car windows closed, use air conditioning, and shower after being outside to clean off the allergen.

Some common allergens for those who suffer with allergies year-round include dust mites, insects, cockroaches, animals, and mold spores. Medications can help alleviate symptoms from these allergens as well.

“You do have to remember to take the medications on a regular basis,” said Dunlap. “After a couple of days, if you’re off of them, your symptoms will come back.”

Those suffering with allergies should consult their doctor to find which treatment option might be best for them.