Got the sniffles and sneezes lately? You’re not alone. East Tennessee perennially ranks among the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America’s “Spring Allergy Capitals.” If you are one of the estimated 67 million people in the United States who suffers with seasonal allergy symptoms – such as sneezing, clear nasal drainage, itchy nasal passages, scratchy throat, and itchy, watery eyes – there are steps you can take to find relief.
“Most springtime allergy sufferers already have identified their seasonal nemesis: trees,” Blount Memorial board-certified otolaryngologist Dr. Bryan Tigner said. “Tree pollen is the predominant offender in early spring. Mold spores also are active with the wet season, and mold exposure increases with gardening and lawn care. Grass pollen can creep in in the late spring. In addition, symptoms can be aggravated if you have existing year-round or indoor allergies to dust mites or animal dander, for example,” he explained.
Tigner recommends five tips to be proactive about reducing your risk for seasonal allergies. “First, whenever possible, stay indoors during peak pollen time, which is between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.,” he said. “Next, if you’re planning outdoor activities, be sure to check the weather forecast. Allergy symptoms often lessen on rainy or windless days because pollen doesn’t circulate as much, however, allergy symptoms can increase during periods of high humidity and wind. Third, if you are going to be outside when pollen counts are high, consider wearing a face mask to protect yourself,” he explained.
“Another way to reduce your risk for seasonal allergies is to keep the windows closed at home,” Tigner continued. “Finally, you can use saline rinses to remove allergens from your nostrils and sinuses. According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, saline sinus rinses can bring relief – without the use of medication – to patients with allergic rhinitis, which is inflammation and swelling of the mucous membrane of the nose, as well as those with chronic or acute sinus infections, and other rhinitis problems,” he explained.
If, despite your best preventive efforts, your symptoms persist, Tigner says it’s time to see a doctor. Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) physicians, or otolaryngologists, such as Tigner, are specially trained in allergy and its effects on the ear, nose, sinuses and throat. “Depending on your symptoms, ENT-directed allergy treatment could include testing to identify triggers, conventional allergy shots, and sublingual allergy therapy or allergy drops,” Tigner said.
“Many times, symptoms such as nasal congestion or sinusitis are not solely due to allergies,” Tigner said. “As surgeons, we can identify and treat structural abnormalities to help you breathe and live better during allergy season. Blount Memorial Hospital has the latest technologies, such as balloon sinuplasty, Propel dissolvable sinus implants, Latera absorbable implants and image-guided sinus surgery, to address all of your nasal airway and sinus needs,” he added.
To schedule an appointment with Dr. Tigner, call Foothills ENT Allergy and Hearing Center at 865-983-4090.