Health tips from Providence’s Melissa Sanchez, FNP
It's a beautiful sunny day, the birds are singing, the flowers are blooming, and you are sneezing! Is it just a cold or is it allergies? “Symptoms that may seem like a cold may really be allergy related,” says Melissa Sanchez, FNP, from Providence Health eXpress, located in the Labor and Industries Building in Salem. “These symptoms may include: ear pressure, sore throat, post nasal drip, nasal congestion, cough, itchy eyes and red eyes.”
Understanding Pollen Allergies
One of the most common types of allergies this time of year is allergic rhinitis, better known as hay fever. (Did you know that allergic rhinitis is among the top conditions that PEBB members seek Providence Health eXpress services for?) It usually is a seasonal allergy that appears in spring or summer. It is known to be triggered by various plant pollens, trees, grasses and weeds, or airborne mold spores. Springtime is known as the tree pollen season, and summer is the grass and weed pollen season. The symptoms of hay fever, or pollen allergies, are very similar to a cold or flu. They include a runny nose, itching eyes, nose and throat, sneezing and head congestion.
There are many ways to avoid pollen, and keep it from making you miserable this season. Here are some tips:
- If possible, remain indoors in the morning when the pollen levels are highest. Sunny, windy days can be especially bothersome for allergy sufferers.
- If you have a pollen allergy and you must work outdoors, you can wear tight fitting facemasks that are designed to filter pollen out of the air before it reaches your nasal passages.
- Keep your lawn mowed to prevent grasses from blooming and pollinating. When you do mow your grass, wear a facial mask to filter out the pollen particles.
- When you are in your car, keep your windows closed and your air conditioning on recirculate.
- At home keep your windows closed during peak hours of the day, and be sure to replace your heating/cooling air filters regularly.
- Obtain a High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filter. They are very effective in removing pollen from the air indoors without contaminating the environment with molds.
- Avoid travel in the country; especially on dry, windy days or while crops are being harvested.
- Watch the pollen counts in the local weather reports. These counts represent the pollen concentration in the air in a certain area at a specific time. Although a pollen count is an approximate measure, it is useful as a general guide for when it is advisable to stay indoors and avoid contact with the pollen.
Summer Vacation: Planning around Your Asthma or Allergies
Summer is the time for leisure, travel, and family vacations. Asthma and allergies are frustrating and their management often requires a lot of time and attention. But it does not have to get in the way of your summer vacation plans.
Are you planning a trip this summer? Don't forget to consider your needs or the needs of an allergic or asthmatic family member when making your arrangements.
It also is important to discuss your travel plans with your personal physician or Providence Health eXpress provider. Your doctor can recommend the best treatments or preventions on your trip, and also advise you of potentially risky destinations and activities. “Refill inhalers and medications prior to travel, and carry them with you in case your luggage gets lost or delayed,” says Sanchez.
Once you've taken your allergies into account and have made your vacation plans, put your worries behind you. Enjoy your summer to the fullest, while taking allergies and asthma on the road.
Providence Health eXpress can help
If you think that your symptoms may be caused by allergies, talk to your Providence Health eXpress provider about medication options. Same-day appointments are available by calling 1-855-229-6460.