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6-26-11

Allergies

Although allergens are present all year round, allergy sufferers find the spring, summer and fall months especially troublesome.

Many people who are experiencing sneezing, runny nose and congestion may think they have a common cold, but they actually could be suffering from allergies.  It is believed that 35 percent of the U.S. population has some form of allergic rhinitis says Dr. Richard Bass, professor of otolaryngology at SIU School of Medicine in Springfield.   He explains some common allergens.

SOUND BITE:  “All year around can be a problem, but spring, particularly, and also fall are two big allergy seasons.  In the spring, it’s the onset of trees and grasses and in the fall, it’s ragweed.  And people in the fall, will come in if they have ragweed season.  They get terribly congested, runny nose, runny eyes, itchy eyes, and all the other symptoms that go with allergic problems until the first frost.”

Dr. Bass says susceptibility to allergies is genetic and usually runs in families.  There is no cure, but there are ways to manage and treat the condition.  The first way is to take steps to identify and avoid the allergy triggers.  He suggests some medications for treating allergies including antihistamines.

SOUND BITE:  “The most common are antihistamines, and there are a lot of them on the market. A lot of them are over the counter.  And then when that doesn’t work, then there are some other things we can try like Lukotriene inhibitor, which is another form or medication.  There are also nasal steroid sprays and nasal antihistamines.” And also antihistamines for the eyes which help with people with allergies.”

Dr. Bass recommends shots or medications for individuals whose allergies are not improved by basic treatment options.  Anyone suffering from allergies should see their primary care physician, who may refer them to an allergist for further evaluation and possible treatment.

This is Ruth Slottag at SIU School of Medicine in Springfield.