Handling Seasonal Allergies
Tuesday, August 28, 2018
Posted by: Roy Muyinza
By Melissa Parmer, RN, CCM, MBA
Across Texas, watery eyes, running noses and itchy throats are a familiar story. When summers can mean finding cars covered in yellow dust, seasonal allergies are a serious concern to many Texans and Texas nurses.
Allergic conditions are exaggerated reactions to environmental substances that are usually considered harmless. Costing more than eighteen billion each year, allergies are the sixth leading cause of illness in the United States, with over fifty million people affected.
Not all allergens are created equal as geographical location and season may impact the allergen’s present and population. For example, different types of pollen come from different sources and make appearances at different times; grass, weeds and trees may all be sources of pollen. Ragweed pollen typically appears in late summer with a peak in mid-September. Other allergens, such as mold, have their own unique presentation and may impact patients differently.
A common issue for allergy suffers is allergic rhinitis or hay fever. Hay fever may be caused by mold spores and pollen. Sixteen million adults were diagnosed with hay fever in the past twelve months. Not exclusive to hay fever, patients may experience symptoms all year long while others experience symptoms in the spring, summer or early fall. Patients may present with watery eyes and may report an itchy nose, eyes or the roof of the mouth, along with sneezing, a runny nose, a stuffy nose or other symptoms.
Children are also affected by allergies. Allergic conditions are one of the most common medical issues affecting children. Per the 2016 National Health Interview, over a 12-month time frame 5.5 million children were reported to have hay fever and 7.6 million children reported respiratory allergies. As with adults, children’s physical and emotional health may suffer, including quality of sleep. The child may also be less able to partake in activities at school and with friends. The severity of allergies may vary by type and the child’s age, for example, the prevalence of skin allergies decreases with age while the prevalence of respiratory allergies increases.
The great indoors also serve as a host for allergens. Indoor allergies and irritants may include dander, dust, dust mites, mold, and even different rooms of a residence can increase a patient’s risk of exposure. In the United States, approximately ten percent of the population suffers from indoor animal-related allergies, and about ten percent of the general population is allergic to dust mites. Patients with asthma are at an increased risk; twenty to thirty percent of asthma patients experience pet allergies, and while geographically dependent, ninety percent of patients with allergic asthma are sensitive to dust mites.
Regardless of the source, allergies can lead to undesirable side effects, prompting patients to seek treatment.
Members: Sign in for specific tips and information on how treating allergies.