Take Control of Your Springtime Asthma and Allergies

April 26, 2017 12:00 PM with Dr. Giselle Mosnaim

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Sneezing and wheezing are unfortunate reminders for millions of people that spring is back. Though it should be a time to enjoy the outdoors, for those who suffer from seasonal allergies and asthma symptoms, pollen, dust and other airborne particles can make the season miserable. If you’re ready to take control of your symptoms, join Dr. Giselle Mosnaim, specialist within NorthShore’s department of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. She will be discussing the causes of seasonal allergy and asthma symptoms, prevention tips and ways to best address your symptoms.

Giselle Mosnaim - 11:58 AM:
Hello everyone! Welcome to our chat. I'm ready to start answering your questions.

Kathryn (Moderator) - 12:00 PM:
Our seasonal asthma and allergies chat is now open. You can submit questions at any time during this chat.

  Reba (Skokie, IL) - 12:01 PM:
I have seasonal allergies that can get out of hand. What are some best ways to fight allergies head-on before they start?
Giselle Mosnaim
Thank you for your question! If you already know what you are allergic to, and what time of year your allergies bother you, it is helpful to start taking your allergy medications 2 weeks beforehand. That way you are being proactive and preventing the symptoms from getting out of hand.

  Nicole (Boston, MA) - 12:05 PM:
I've been on Flonase for many years and recently heard it can cause cataracts. Is this something I should be concerned about?
Giselle Mosnaim
This is a very important question. Intranasal steroids are the most effective allergy medications for many people. If you are on long term Flonase, or other intranasal steroid medication, it is important to have regular conversations as well as eye and nose exams with your health care provider. They may also recommend that you see an eye specialist for further evaluation.

  Nicole (Chicago, IL) - 12:11 PM:
What is the estimated amount of years that a person needs to get allergy shots for? Do the effects "wear off" after completing the shots?
Giselle Mosnaim
A usual course of allergy shots takes four to five years to complete. During this time, you receive regular shots containing tiny amounts of allergens. The goal is to change your body's response to these allergens, so that you have less symptoms and need for allergy medications long term. These effects are generally long lasting.

  Molly (Chicago, IL) - 12:20 PM:
Hi! I have seasonal asthma due to grass and ragweed allergies. My albuterol inhaler isn't really effective so I've been prescribed symbicort. I don't like the idea of being on a steroid-- is symbicort a drug that can be taken only during my allergy season, and then stopped once we have a freeze?
Giselle Mosnaim
Yes, if you have seasonal asthma, it is often recommended to take a controller medication such as Symbicort regularly during your allergy season only. However, please talk with your doctor to individualize the treatment plan to best meet your needs.

  Debra (Des Plaines, IL) - 12:28 PM:
My daily Zyrtec does not seem to be keeping up with my allergies some days. On particularly bad days is it safe to also take a benadryl?
Giselle Mosnaim
Sometimes a person's allergies can get worse, and the medicine that used to help is not enough. You can add a Benadryl on bad days, but this medicine can make you sleepy. Please do not take it if you will be driving. You may want to talk with your doctor about other allergy medication options that do not cause sedation.

  Margo (Arlington Heights) - 12:34 PM:
My son is allergic to tree pollen and is currently taking over-the-counter Zyrtec. We follow the allergy reports on the nightly news. When can he stop taking his medication for the season?
Giselle Mosnaim
Tree season in our area is usually from March through June. However, because weather conditions vary from year to year, so do tree pollen levels. As a general guide, you could consider stopping the medicine at the end of June.

  Reba (Skokie, IL) - 12:39 PM:
Are there any natural products or medicines that can be used to fight alergies?
Giselle Mosnaim
While we do not have clear evidence about how well they work, some people prefer alternative treatments for allergies. These include: Stinging Nettle, Tinospora Cordifolia, Cat's Claw, GoldenSeal, locally produced honey, probiotics, and acupuncture. Other home remedies that may help to reduce discomfort are nasal saline rinses and to stay well hydrated.

  Alison (Skokie, IL) - 12:48 PM:
My sons eyes are just so red and painful at this time of year, and as of late from our dog as well. He's taken out his contacts and used pantenol drops, and worn glasses. Are there any other possible options to help him?
Giselle Mosnaim
Eye allergies can be very bothersome, and you have already taken the correct measures by switching from contacts to glasses and started allergy eye drops. We are currently in tree and grass pollen season, which can both aggravate eye allergies in addition to the dog. You may want to consider preservative-free over the counter artificial tears, speaking with your primary care doctor about adding a 24-hour antihistamine tablet, antileukotriene tablet, or intranasal steroid spray, or going to see an allergist for environmental allergy testing and possible allergy shots.

  R (IL) - 12:57 PM:
When I do have seasonal allergies- I sometimes break out into hives. Is there a remedy to soothe my skin during this time?
Giselle Mosnaim
Sometimes people get itchy skin and hives, or itchy eyes, ears, nose, and throat with seasonal allergies. You may want to try an over the counter 24 hour antihistamine, or talk to your primary care doctor or see an allergist for further evaluation if the symptoms do not improve.

Kathryn (Moderator) - 1:03 PM:
This will be the end of our chat. Thank you for your questions. For more information on seasonal asthma and allergy symptoms, or to speak with a specialist like Dr. Mosnaim, please contact the Department of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.

Giselle Mosnaim - 1:05 PM:
Thank you to everyone for submitting questions and participating! This concludes our online chat for today.

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