Spring Time Brings Agony for Many Allergy Sufferers

Doctors say treating allergy symptoms before they start is key

CONTACT: Todd Harper
Phone: 317.630.7808
Pager: 317.310.5972   
E-mail: todd.harper@wishard.edu

Indianapolis, March 7, 2013 – The snow should be melted soon and spring weather is just around the corner. With spring comes allergies. It is estimated that 40 million Americans suffer from allergies.

Outdoor spring cleaning, mowing the grass and planting flowers can often intensify allergy symptoms. But when the weather is nice and spring is in the air, it is hard not to want to get out and enjoy the outdoors, regardless of the potential for an allergy outbreak.

"While avoidance is the best medicine for allergy sufferers, it is often not the most practical remedy. The good thing, is while avoidance might not be entirely possible, limiting exposure and taking proactive measures to reduce allergy flare-ups can often be very helpful," said Dr. William Baker, allergy section chief for the IU School of Medicine and an allergist at Wishard-Eskenazi Health.  

Spring allergies can start as soon as trees start to bud, which in Indiana can be early March. Dr. Baker said while outdoor allergies are impossible to avoid, there are some helpful tips to make the spring allergy season more bearable. These tips include:

  • Stay indoors between 5 and 10 a.m., as this is the time plants and flowers open for the morning sun and pollen counts tend to be highest.
  • Plan your outdoor activities when pollen counts in your area are at their lowest. The best time for a person with allergies to be outdoors is after a heavy rain fall.
  • Keep windows closed whenever possible, and leave shoes and clothing worn outside in the garage or closed off from the house to prevent allergens from entering.
  • Shower or bathe before going to bed to limit the potential of spreading the allergens.

"For many people, avoidance measures can greatly reduce the symptoms of allergies," Dr. Baker explained. "Keeping windows closed and using the air conditioning, avoiding the outdoors for an extensive time during the morning hours when allergies tend to be the worst and never drying your clothes outside on a clothes line are some preventive measures people can take."

For people with severe allergies, Dr. Baker said there are several steps a person should take to treat his or her symptoms. He said the first step is to try over-the-counter medications. If no improvement is seen within a few days, a visit to a primary care physician is warranted.  In many cases, if the symptoms do not improve after seeing a primary care doctor, a person is then referred to an allergy clinic for skin testing to determine the allergens causing the reaction. Medication prescribed by a physician, a nasal spray and/or an oral medicine, typically can ease symptoms. For severe cases, allergy shots may be necessary, Dr. Baker said.   

Through a network of primary care facilities located throughout the neighborhoods of Indianapolis, Eskenazi Health Center is comprised of 10 separate health care sites. Eskenazi Health Center includes the following locations: Blackburn, Cottage Corner, Forest Manor, Grassy Creek, North Arlington, Pecar, Westside, and the Primary Care Center and Center for Senior Health, which are both located on the Wishard campus. These sites offer an array of services, including physical exams, prenatal care, social services, dental services and more. For more information on these services or to find a primary care physician, please call Wishard Health Connection at 317.655.2255.