Spring is a lovely season, full of flowers, sunshine and…sneezing. That part is no picnic. With plants blooming and pollen circulating, the season can deliver an assault on the senses.
Allergies may be the culprit that’s making you sneeze. The telltale signs of allergies are coughing, itchy and watery eyes, and sneezing and sinus congestion. Other symptoms can include ear fullness (which feels like clogging and popping) and dark under-eye circles.
If you’re suffering from allergies, you won’t have fever or chills. Those symptoms are much more likely to occur with a cold or the flu.
The first line of defense against allergies is a nasal spray. There are over-the-counter options available such as Flonase or Nasonex. These sprays help reduce inflammation inside your nasal passages. After nasal sprays, try medications such as Singulair, and the over-the-counter antihistamines such as Zyrtec, Allegra or Claritin.
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Plants and trees in Kentucky that cause sneezing include box elders, any kind of ash tree or mulberry bush. Pollen and ragweed are other common allergens in this region.
You can be tested to learn about specific allergens that affect you. Once you know what bothers you most, an allergist can give you shots on a regular basis to help you develop immunity.
One strategy for keeping allergies tamed is to avoid pollen. You can check local pollen counts on websites such as the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (www.aaaai.org) before heading outdoors.
Pollen can find its way into your home. Use the air conditioner rather than opening the window. If you wear shoes inside, vacuum and dust regularly. Buy HEPA filters for air conditioners and your furnace since they are specifically designed to help with allergies.
In some areas, mold and mildew are mainly an issue in the winter, when plants are decomposing. In this region, where winters are mild, they could be a year-round irritant. Using a dehumidifier to decrease moisture can help reduce mold and mildew that thrive in humid environments. Kentucky has been experiencing more rain than snow this winter, which encourages the growth of mold and mildew.
Animal dander also can make you sneeze. Selecting a breed that does not trigger allergies can be one solution to the problem.
Dr. Cherie Gambrel is a family medicine physician with Baptist Health Medical Group Family Health in Corbin.