While tree pollens may be on the downhill slide for the season, grass pollens are beginning to rise in Chattanooga as summer approaches.
"The trees are coming down from their peak, so pollen counts are not as high, but they are still high enough to bother people," said Dr. Todd Levin of Chattanooga Allergy Clinic. "As the summer starts we start seeing more grass pollen and more mold allergies too, depending on the weather. If it stays cool and doesn't rain much, tree pollen season could last longer, but if it starts to get hot soon, then it will shut down more quickly."
He explained that while it can be difficult to identify exactly when the grass pollens are out, the doctors and nurses at Chattanooga Allergy start seeing signs of them via their patients coming in with continued symptoms of congestion, runny nose and eye irritation. Since the symptoms are very much the same as those found in people i three pollen sensitivity, patients have to be tested to determine what they are allergic to and determine what treatment to start and when.
"You should certainly start treating the problem before symptoms occur, if possible," said Dr. Levin. "Once your symptoms are there the cat's out of the bag, so to speak, and it can be a little more difficult to get it under control."
He recommends starting medications, if that's the best route for the patient, two to four weeks ahead of the season if possible. This time frame allows the medications to get into the patient's body and fight the allergens as soon as they surface. Medications used during pollen seasons include over-the-counter nasal saline and antihistamines. If those don't work, Dr. Levin noted that there are prescription-strength medicines available as well.
"Allergy shots are another route and can serve as a potential cure for patients," he added. "They work to completely retrain the body's immune system. While medications are good and best for some, they only put a bandage on the problem whereas allergy shots could be a lifelong change."
Quoting a recent study he read, Dr. Levin said allergy shots save the average adult $4,300 in the first 18 months of treatment. The average person receives one or two shots per weekly treatment.
The entire process works over a period of three to five years. While that may sound like a long time, Dr. Levin said to keep in mind that he treatment does offer a cure to allergies that lasts a lifetime.
"Our biggest thing we try to do for all our patients is provide education," he said. "We want to make sure you understand your diagnosis, what's going on and how to prevent it."
He added that there are tips and helpful hints available on the clinic's Facebook page and website.
Chattanooga Allergy Clinic treats all types of allergic disorders at its five offices with seven providers in and around Chattanooga. For more information about spring allergies or to find an office near you, visit www.chattanoogaallergyclinic.com or call 423-899-0431.