Springtime has arrived. Flowers are blossoming, the grass is turning green, and people are stepping outside to enjoy the warm weather and calm breeze. As pleasant as that may sound to some, springtime quite literally triggers a different reaction from others.
For individuals suffering from allergies, springtime is nothing more than that dreaded time of year that calls for increased antihistamines and doctor visits.
Dr. David Orringer said the combination of warm weather and winds that have come with spring are resulting in a lot more allergic reactions, particularly from individuals with respiratory symptoms.
Orringer, who owns his own practice at Velo Med Urgent Care, said a large number of allergic reactions are coming from grasses common to Arizona, such as ryegrass and Bermuda grass.
“These are very prevalent grasses that many people are exposed to each day,” he said.
Other allergens common to Tucson are mold, certain types of weeds, and pollen.
According to Weather.com, pollen levels in Tucson will continue to be high in the month of March.
While it may be nearly impossible to completely avoid exposure to pollen, Accuweather.com suggests countering reactions by taking a teaspoon of raw honey regularly, as the pollen content in honey can potentially desensitize an individual to a more severe reaction. Additionally, raw honey also helps soothe sore throats that often come with allergies. The site also recommends implementing fish and whole vegetables into one’s diet, as a recent study published in Pediatric Allergy and Immunology found that children with fish and vegetables in their diet are less likely to suffer from allergies.
With the warmer weather, another threat comes with increased insect activity, exposing local residents to potential bites and stings, which could result in further reactions.
With all the different possibilities out there, Orringer said it is important to narrow down a patient’s specific allergic reactions to reduce future exposure.
“A great way to do that is ImmunoCAP testing,” he said. “The test will give an absolute number of reactions to specific triggers.”
ImmunoCAP uses a patient’s blood sample to determine with high accuracy an individual’s allergic triggers. Following the results, which usually take 7-10 days to return from the Arizona Desert and Mountain Panel, a patient can then make an educated decision to avoid exposure to the allergen, choose specific antihistamines, or undergo immunotherapy.
“Avoidance of exposure is the number one preventative measure,” said Orringer.
For unavoidable allergens, Orringer said immunotherapy is a good option.
Immunotherapy desensitizes an individual’s reactions to a particular allergen by injecting him or her with concentrated shots of serum that includes the allergen.
“Immunotherapy has had good results,” said Orringer. “For unavoidable allergens, it’s a good solution because the body can better deal with exposure to particular allergens.”
Immunotherapy is particularly beneficial to individuals who spend a lot of time outdoors. Orringer said he has seen good results with immunotherapy with his 11-year-old son, who was having trouble breathing when playing football during the summer.
For individuals seeking antihistamines as a solution, Orringer recommends Allegra.
“It’s a nice antihistamine that is broad enough but not too broad to cover many of the specific reactions,” he said.
Many simple household changes can also help reduce the severity of reactions, such as grooming and washing pets frequently to limit the amount of dander brought into the home. Orringer recommends replacing air filters and vacuuming more often, since the presences of dust mites commonly cause reactions.
While most reactions are treatable by antihistamines, Orringer said if a reaction is severe, such as shortness of breath, the proper procedure is to immediately go to the emergency room.