By Naeisha Rose
Allergy sufferers and asthmatics have a lot to worry about this spring, despite the prolonged cool weather, but there are ways to find comfort this allergy season, according to Dr. Lisa Roth, an allergist and immunologist at Jamaica Hospital in Richmond Hill.
“The spring had a bit of a delayed start because of the cold stretch, but we had a lot of precipitation because of the rain and snow,” said Roth. “This year there is an anticipation of a heightened or intense pollen season, but in a shorter time frame.”
A delayed pollen season in mid-Atlantic states like New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania was also predicted as far back as mid-March by www.accuw
A shorter, yet more intense allergy season also results in more hospital visits for people who are asthmatic, according to Roth.
“People will be more symptomatic,” said Roth. “What we are trying to do in the allergy department at Jamaica Hospital is to educate our patients … we can prevent [or lessen the symptoms] by providing personalized treatment plans.”
Personal treatment plans can help asthmatics and allergy sufferers learn exactly what it is that they are allergic to and help doctors to strategize in coming up with solutions specific to their patients.
The common problem for allergy sufferers and asthmatics when they are outdoors will be tree pollen, according to the allergist.
“Right now it’s the tree season and you can expect sneezing, stuffy nose, runny nose, itchy and teary eyes, nasal drips, coughs, rashes and shortness of breathe with wheezing,” said Roth.
Accuweather, the world’s largest weather company, predicted in March that tree pollen would be at its peak in early June in New York and New England.
Asthmatics, who are sensitive to what is in the environment, also have to beware of ragweed, grass pollen and mold, according to Roth.
Roth suggests that the best way to be comfortable this season is to take an allergy test before just getting any over-the-counter drug, which might not meet your specific needs.
“Allergy skin testing can help us identify the specific triggers,” said Roth. “That’s how we can identify the specific triggers… and provide allergy shots, which use their own immune system to help prevent symptoms in a beneficial way.”
If you do not want to go the allergy shot route, getting an allergy test can also help doctors tailor which medications a patient should use based on what triggers their allergy and what symptoms they get.
Roth also suggested getting allergy shots or using the right combination of allergy medicine two weeks before allergy season as a way for both allergy sufferers and asthmatics to build up their immune system and lessen, in some patients’ cases, or feel no symptoms this season.
Roth also had tips for those who might not have time to get to a hospital.
“The early morning is when the highest count of tree pollen are, so try to schedule outdoor activities later if the pollen count is very high,” said Roth. “Close the windows where you live, because fresh air is not the best option. Air purifiers will clean the air you breathe and lessen the pollen, and a nighttime shower will wash away pollen accumulated during the day.”
To learn what the pollen count is, Roth uses www.polle
“Once we have the knowledge, there is a lot we can do,” said Roth.
Reach reporter Naeisha Rose by e-mail at nrose