Seasonal allergies can be managed

Published 11:48 pm Friday, March 29, 2013

It has been said that there are only two certainties in life: death and taxes.

For several people around this time of year, there seems like a third: allergies. Seasonal allergies affect so much of the population, yet so commonly, little thought is ever given to their causes and even possible prevention.

According to Dr. Charles Brentnall of the Chilton Specialty Clinic, allergies are caused when irritants such as pollen and pet dander enter the body through being inhaled, and then are absorbed into the blood stream through the lungs.

Once in the blood stream, the irritants cause blood cells to break down, releasing histamines which cause symptoms such as runny noses and watery eyes.

Brentnall said there are certain factors to consider when examining allergies, such as family health history.

“My father and mother both had asthma, and my sister and I both have asthma,” he said. “When you take an allergy test, it only tells us what’s causing them. We try to help you build immunity.”

When it comes to prevention or control of the symptoms once they are taken in, Brentnall said there are plenty of options to help cope.

“They’ve got so many competitive over-the-counter medicines for adults,” he said. “People with high blood pressure or heart rate [need to be cautious] because some medicines cause blood pressure and heart rate to be irregular. For those of pediatric age, seeing their pediatric doctor would be the safest bet.”

Still, there are ways to keep allergies from setting in. Valerie Conner, Regional Extension Agent for Chilton County, said there are preventative measures to minimize the amount of allergens in one’s house.

“For indoors, vacuum once a week,” she said. “Use a pleated air filter; they’re good for trapping [allergens]. Use air vents to pull odors out, and if you are cleaning and have allergies, use a mask.”

Conner said there are several allergy triggers that people don’t realize are there.

“Dust mites – you can’t see them,” she said. “Any kind of pollen, pet dander or pest dropping and odors that come from household cleaners [can trigger allergies].”

Both Conner and Brentnall said the key to avoiding allergies flaring up is simply stopping them where they start.

“[It’s all about] controlling the triggers and avoiding them,” she said.

Brentnall agreed, and said that the immune system recharges once a person gets home. Consequently, if the home causes the immune system to have to work overtime, eventually the allergens will take hold and cause problems.

“If you use all that [immunity used to battle outdoor allergens] at home, you don’t have much when you leave the next day,” he said. “The cleaner the in-home air, the immunity starts [to repair itself.].”

For more information, contact the Extension at 280-6268 or Chilton Specialty Clinic at 280-3360.