Ear, nose, throat expert shares tips for allergy season
People with allergies don’t have to be told when spring arrives because their body already has. They usually start looking for over-the-counter or prescription medications and reaching for a box of tissues.
Katie Flood, nurse practitioner in ear, nose and throat care at MercyOne Clinton North Health Plaza, shares some tips to manage allergies so you can live your best life.
Being aware of your allergies and what triggers them is a great start.
“People need to plan ahead if they have allergies,” Flood said. “If you take prescriptions, make sure you start using antihistamines and nasal steroids a week before any known exposure to allergens such as pollen or pets. This is important because nasal steroids can take a few days before they work.”
Check the time
The time of day – especially during warmer months – can make a difference in how your allergies are affected.
“It’s best to plan outdoor activities away from late mornings when pollen counts are typically higher, especially on windy days,” Flood said. “One example is uncut grass. After a couple of weeks, grass goes to seed, which is where the pollen lives. When the wind kicks up, pollen can easily spread.”
Flood says it’s possible to reduce pollen exposure by visualizing where pollen is located so you can be mindful as you plan your day.
“Pollen is invisible, so it’s like trying to fight someone you can't see,” she said.
No matter how hard you try, Flood says pollen will find you.
“Avoid rubbing areas of your body exposed to irritants and pollen,” Flood said. “Cover up with hats, masks and long-sleeve clothing. Pollen has spikes, so rubbing your itchy eyes will scratch them. Instead, open your eyes in clean water to help soothe and rinse out particles.”
The impact of significant pollen exposure can be minimized by rinsing, showering or washing your face and hair immediately after pollen exposure.
If nothing is working, Flood suggests people consult their local physician to discuss oral steroids such as prednisone. When all else fails, a week of oral steroids can work quickly.
MercyOne is a connected system of health care facilities and services dedicated to helping people and communities live their best life. MercyOne’s care providers and staff make health the highest priority. The system’s clinics, medical centers, hospitals and affiliates are located throughout the state of Iowa and beyond. Headquartered in central Iowa, MercyOne is a member of Trinity Health (based in Livonia, Michigan) – one of the largest not-for-profit Catholic health care systems in the nation. Learn more at MercyOne.org.