Allergy season worse than ever

OTC and homeopathic remedies may help

By Caren Burmeister
Resident Community News

There’s a crust of yellow green powder on your windshield. The person behind you in the grocery line is sneezing and wiping bleary eyes. You’re on the phone and notice an unusual wheezing.

It’s allergy season and all those moss covered oaks, stately pines and verdant green yards that we’re so fond of have become the enemy.
“There seems to be much more of a problem with allergies this year,” said Gary Roberts, a pharmacist and owner of Roberts’ Southbank Pharmacy in San Marco.
Dr. Jesse McRae, an allergist on Blanding Boulevard, agrees. The earlier-than-usual warm weather, plus wind and rain has really aggravated allergies, he said.
“People are sicker than usual this year,” said McRae. “It affects many people’s quality of life. It can interfere with your learning, work performance and your sleep.”
Jacksonville’s pine pollen appeared in January, followed by oak pollination. Before you know it, grass will start pollinating, Roberts said. He’s seeing more people come to his pharmacy for help, even some who tell him they’ve never had allergies before.

But it’s the oak trees that are causing the most suffering at this time of year, McRae said. Oaks shed considerable amounts of pollen that commonly trigger symptoms.
McRae said his asthma patients are also experiencing worse symptoms due to molds like alternaria that are permeating in the air now, especially on dry, windy days.
What can we do for the runny nose, sneezing and itchy eyes?

The good news is that over the counter medications cause less drowsiness than they used to. Antihistamines like Claritin and Allegra are extremely helpful and generally don’t cause drowsiness, Roberts said. They also come in a liquid form that’s helpful for children.

Benadryl can cause drowsiness, Roberts said, so he doesn’t recommend it unless you’re having an allergic reaction to a bee sting.
Nasal sprays also work well, but don’t use them for more than three or four days, Roberts said. Otherwise, you may have a “rebound” reaction, which can happen when your nose becomes less responsive to the medication’s effects.

Drink lots of fluids when you’re taking antihistamine, Roberts said, because they a drying effect and the inflamed tissues in your nose are more vulnerable to bacteria and infection.
Maybe you prefer to use a gentler, more natural approach to treat your symptoms.
Some people find relief from nutritional and herbal products such as Allergy ReLeaf System from Herbs Etc., Aller-Max by Country Life, and Aller-Ease by Buried Treasure, said James Robison, president of Grassroots Natural Market in 5 Points.

“These are the top formulas that our customers come back to season after season,” Robison said.
Grassroots Natural Market doesn’t have medical doctors on staff and can’t diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent diseases, Robison said.
“But we have many options of traditional and alternative remedies which many customers tell us have solved their issues,” he said.
Robison also suggests using HEPA filters in home ventilation systems and vacuum cleaners, using green cleaning supplies, and proper laundering of bed linens to minimize the compounding of dust mites, pollens, pet dander and other allergens.

If your allergies are severe you may want to talk to your doctor about getting a series of shots that work like a vaccine and help desensitize you to your allergy triggers, McRae said. The shots gradually expose the body to the allergen, eventually blocking your reaction to it.

There may be some good news on the horizon for people with severe allergies that means no more needles. Someday, once the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approves it, the allergy vaccine will be administered sublingually, under the tongue.

The FDA has yet to approve the treatment, which is already available throughout Europe and Asia. It not known how long the FDA review process will take.
“We’re hoping that soon it will become routine practice,” McRae said.

A Sigh of Relief: Putting Your Cold to Bed

Catching some Z’s when you’re stuffy can be tricky, but taking a decongestant may actually keep you awake. Here are five quick tips that may help you breathe better when you’re sick:
Hot shower
Relaxing with a hot shower before bed not only soothes achy muscles, but the steam also may help clear and soothe the sinuses.
Hot drink
A hot liquid like herbal tea helps decongest and soothe the nose and throat. If you like a hot toddy, limit yourself to just one to help avoid counterproductive effects like dehydration and inflammation.
Hot pack
Applying a hot pack around your sinuses may also help relieve congestion. Make your own by heating a damp cloth in the microwave for 30 seconds.
Head(board) up
Propping your head up on pillows isn’t advised because it can make your neck bend unnaturally, making breathing more difficult. Instead, try elevating the head of your bed using large books or planks.
Moist air from a humidifier can ease congestion and soothe nose and throat irritation through the night; just be sure to sanitize your machine between uses.
Did you know the common cold is caused by a virus?
For this reason, antibiotics are not recommended for treatment. Instead, focus on getting good quality sleep, drink lots of water and use over-the-counter medications to relieve headache pain, suppress a cough, and get rid of congestion. After seven to ten days, the cold should have run its course and you should be feeling mostly back to normal. If your symptoms persist, if you have a lingering cough accompanied by a fever or pain, or if you have sinus pain and continue to experience thick yellow or green mucus, then you should seek care from a healthcare professional. With 13 locations in the Jacksonville area, CareSpot is conveniently located close to home or work. Visit to check wait times, find a location, save a spot in line, or book an appointment

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