For Many, The Joys of Spring Also Bring The Miseries of Allergies

Ah, spring. Days become longer and warmer. Flowers bloom. Birds sing.

And allergies kick in.

So far, the 2016 allergy season is shaping up to be especially active. Because of leap year, the spring equinox came a day early and during the first part of March, temperatures were 10 to 30 degrees higher than normal in our area. So not only are the typical winter mold allergies still around, the warm weather has plants blooming early, releasing high doses of pollen.

Typically pollen levels aren’t even recorded until April, but counts are already up across the state and physicians have reported patients complaining of symptoms as early as February. We also haven’t had enough rain to wash away the pollen.

While North Carolina is among the top states for allergies, it is less of a problem along the coast than for our neighbors who live inland. Still, as any local sufferer will tell you, we don’t completely escape the unpleasantness.

In Wilmington during the first official week of spring, tree pollens are approaching moderate levels, with ragweed, mold and grass active, but still considered in the low range. While that yellow-green film that covers your car and everything else is a nuisance this time of the year, you can’t blame it for your symptoms. It’s pine pollen, which is too large to cause allergies. It’s the stuff you can’t see that gets you.

Symptoms can resemble those of a cold, including: runny nose, sneezing, coughing, scratchy throat, itchy or watery eyes, and pressure headaches. If you’ve been suffering what you assumed were cold symptoms for more than 14 days, you may want to be evaluated for allergies.

Coping strategies are primarily common sense solutions, including:

  • If you smoke, quit. If people you live with or work with smoke, ask them not to do so around you.
  • Limit your time outdoors, and wear sunglasses to keep particles out of your eyes as much as possible.
  • Make your home as allergy-proof as you are able. With windows closed and air conditioning on, you will limit the amount of pollen you breathe while indoors. Take off your shoes so you don’t track allergens throughout your home, and clean your floors with a vacuum cleaner that uses a HEPA filter to trap 99.97% of microscopic particles in the air.
  • Take your allergy medications, such as antihistamines, to manage your symptoms. If your symptoms persist or are especially severe, ask your physician if you are a candidate for allergy shots.

If you’re suffering from spring allergies, take the steps above and take heart. The spring culprits usually subside in early summer—but depending on what you’re allergic to, you could have to deal with other allergens on the horizon.

Should you need to see a medical professional without an appointment, or simply prefer the convenience of dropping in for your health care needs, it’s comforting to know that Medac provides excellent care at four convenient Wilmington locations. Our Military Cutoff, Porters Neck and Monkey Junction locations are open 8 a.m. – 8 p.m., and the Shipyard Boulevard location is the area’s only urgent care that is open until 11 p.m.