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Health Watch – Seasonal Allergies: What You Should Know

There's no reason to suffer from seasonal allergies.  During the spring and summer in St. Louis, ragweed and grasses can often be to blame.  In the late summer months and fall, mold comes into play.  General symptoms start with stuffy, runny, itchy, sneezy nose.

Dr. Mark Dykewicz, SLUCare allergist and immunologist adds cough and itchy, watery eyes to the list of allergy symptoms.

And, while allergies can be tolerated by some, Dr. Dykewicz warns that, "people don't sleep well at night, there is a whole area of interest that shows people are less productive at work, kids are learning less well at school. It can have major impacts."

He gives three general approaches:

  • Avoid what you are allergic too
  • Medications - Over the counter antihistamines, nasal sprays, oral medications for inflammation
  • Allergen Immunotherapy - shots and specific immunotherapy under the tongue to reduce long term response to allergies

Dr. Dykewicz says to start your approach early, even before the season that affects you.  Better to nip it in the bud at the very first sign of the allergy symptoms and start your medicines or immunotherapy approach weeks before the seasonal allergies begin.

Dr. Dykewicz tests patients with plastic tips dipped in allergen extracts.  "And then just apply that to the arm, for the most part. For kids, we will use the back. And then we wait 20 minutes for the reaction to develop."

Patients can then avoid drugs with side effects, but no effect on symptoms.  He also says, patients can avoid the allergens by showering when returning from outdoors and keeping windows shut.

"If someone is allergic to house dust mites, there are special allergy coverings that can be used on pillows and mattresses, they don't have to be crinkly plastic anymore."

Testing, treatment and avoidance is key and can be simple.

To learn more about SLUCare Allergy and Immunology or get treatment, click here.