Spring allergies returning to the Ozarks

Doctors urging preparedness before the season ramps up
Published: Feb. 20, 2023 at 5:02 PM CST
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - While spring hasn’t officially begun here in the Ozarks, Mother Nature has recently given the area teases of the coming season with mild temperatures and nice weather. However, Mother Nature is also teasing the return of spring with returning spring allergies.

The early allergy season doesn’t surprise Dr. William Micka, Allergist & Immunologist at CoxHealth.

“It’s not unusual when we have a mild winter and particularly on those days if we get a south wind blowing stuff up from Texas and Oklahoma,” Dr. Micka says. “People can begin to experience early seasonal allergies if they’re allergic to cedar, which is the big culprit right now.”

While the symptoms amongst allergens are universal, Dr. Micka says the time of the year you start reacting can tell what’s triggering the symptoms.

“This time of year, cedarburg, cedar, or juniper counts are elevated,” Dr. Micka states. “The symptoms themselves include runny nose, nasal congestion, sneezing, itchy eyes, red eyes, and watery eyes. There are pretty universal to allergies and don’t specifically point to any particular allergen.”

Since Dr. Micka sees this upcoming season as a pretty heavy season, he and other doctors are encouraging allergy sufferers to get started on their medicine now before we get into the real peak of the season.

“If you get on top of the symptoms early, it makes it easier to control when the peak of the season comes about,” Dr. Micka says. “The medicines help reduce inflammation that occurs in the nose, the sinuses, and the eyes as a result of allergies. Once that inflammation begins, it’s a bit more difficult to get it under control with medication. If you’re on top of the medicines early and keep it from flaring up like that, you can help prevent it from getting severe.”

Over-the-counter antihistamines and nasal sprays will certainly help symptoms. If some don’t respond to those options, Dr. Micka says don’t hesitate to contact your doctor for prescriptions or other treatments or get tested for allergies. Plus, he offers other advice on how to reduce your exposure.

“Keeping the windows and doors closed in your house and car can help keep the allergens from coming in,” Dr. Micka says. “When you’re outside for a while and take a shower afterward, get the pollen out of your hair. Change your clothes. That kind of thing can help. Plus, changing your furnace filter regularly will help make sure you filter out the allergens as much as possible.”

While HEPA air purifiers won’t hurt to have in a room or two, Dr. Micka says studies haven’t shown them to reduce allergen levels enough to make a clinically significant difference. Proper circulation and filtration through your HVAC system is the key. We have more tips and what to look for regarding allergy medication right here.

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