April Showers Bring May Flowers . . . and Seasonal Allergies

Spring is here! But with the warm weather and blooming flowers comes allergy season. To get up to speed on the signs, symptoms, and best treatment plan for allergies, Steward sat down with Dr. George Garrett, a family medicine specialist at Wadley Regional Medical Center in Texarkana, TX.

Q: What is the best way to distinguish between seasonal allergy symptoms and cold or flu symptoms?
A: Typical symptoms of seasonal allergies include sneezing, postnasal discharge, watery, itchy, and puffy eyes, and exacerbations of wheezing or coughing in known asthmatics. Cold and flu symptoms may include the above but also present with fever and chills, discolored secretions, and body aches in the case of the flu.

Q: What are some common allergy triggers to keep an eye out for this spring?
A: Indoors, keep an eye out for cigarette smoke, house dust, indoor molds, and pet dander. Outside, some common allergy triggers include pollen, molds, and smoke.

Q: What is the most effective treatment plan for managing seasonal allergies?
A: Minimizing exposure is the most important way to manage seasonal allergies. Long-sleeved clothing and a mask help minimize direct contact.  Keeping windows closed, along with bathing and changing clothing immediately after entering the home, should minimize exposure.

Q: At what age might parents start noticing allergy symptoms in their children?
A: Allergies take time to develop in children. We tend to see outdoor seasonal allergy symptoms after age 3, usually ages 5-6. Indoor allergy symptoms can be seen earlier, as early as 1 year of age, because of things children are exposed to in the home on a regular basis, such as dust mites and pets.

 Q: When do you recommend reaching out to a physician about your allergy symptoms?
A: You might want to consider reaching out to a physician if you have symptoms that last more than three months, you have tried over-the-counter drugs and still need more relief, you get frequent sinus infections, headaches, stuffy nose, or ear infections, or if you have other health problems such as heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, an enlarged prostate, liver disease, or kidney disease. If so, it may not be safe to treat allergies on your own with over-the-counter drugs.

To find a doctor or schedule an appointment, visit Steward DoctorFinder™.