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Healthy You

7 Tips to Manage Spring Allergies

Monday, April 11, 2022 10:17 AM

By Isabelle Banin

While pollen allergies vary from person to person, you’re not alone if your symptoms have been worsening in recent years.  

Plants are producing more pollen for longer periods of time due to climate change. As allergy seasons intensify, understanding your symptoms and how to manage them is becoming increasingly important.

We asked Jennifer S. Kim, MD, a NorthShore allergy and immunology specialist, for her insight.  

“Allergies can vary within the same person even year to year and certainly over one’s lifetime,” Dr. Kim said. “Why one person is more symptomatic than another is an interesting question, the answer to which is multifactorial and not completely understood but likely involves both genetics and environmental exposures.”

Spring Allergies

Here are Dr. Kim’s tips for controlling spring allergy symptoms:

  • Over-the-counter nasal sprays, such as Flonase, Nasonex, Nasacort, and Rhinocort work best after a few weeks. Aim to start your medication 2 weeks before your allergy season. You will require less medication if you start early or even before experiencing symptoms.  
  • Eye drops and preservative-free artificial tears can help to relieve itchy, watery eyes.
  • Tablets such as Claritin (loratadine), Allegra (fexofenadine), or Zyrtec (cetirizine), can be used as needed for quick relief.  
  • For congestion relief for those who prefer not to take medications, try sinus rinses or neti pot.
  • Allergy shots are able to provide long-term relief although this is a long commitment requiring shots over a period of 3-5 years.
  • Keep your windows closed during allergy season, shower at the end of the day and stay indoors when pollen levels are highest (generally 5-10 a.m.).
  • Talk with your doctor to individualize a treatment plan that best meets your needs.