I have been asked by several patients and friends on what the best time is to start allergy meds for springtime allergies. The truth is: it’s difficult to say.
Last year, you should have started at the end of February. But this year…. we are waiting for the next snow fall and I have not seen any trees showing sign of pollination or even anything living and green on them.
If you want to play it safe: now is the time to start. However, with the new meds on the market such as antihistamines in the form of nasal sprays, you may be okay to watch the pollen counts and start once it indicates that tree pollen counts are high.
Oh, and what if you don’t know what you are actually allergic to? Well, I recommend an appointment with and allergist. It’s easier to follow a regimen if you know what your triggers are. You may be able to take less medication if you can limit exposure and if you can target therapy to the months your triggers (pollen) are around. Schedule an appointment with a board-certified allergist in your area – that’s my best suggestion.
Update: so today, I got my first pollen alert for 2013. We have low amount of tree pollen and mold spores reported for this area. So If you are allergy to tree or mold, it’s time to start your meds now!
Many patients have asked me how allergies can be prevented in their children. Sometimes, I have jokingly answered: keep a dog and a cow in your house as pets. Well, here is the scientific side of my answer. There seems to be some truth that our lives are too clean and sterile, which is making us more allergic to common things. I recently spoke to a Reuters reporter about this:
Amish children raised on rural farms in northern Indiana suffer from asthma and allergies less often even than Swiss farm kids, a group known to be relatively free from allergies, according to a new study.
What it is about growing up on farms — and Amish farms in particular — that seems to prevent allergies remains unclear.
Researchers have long observed the so-called “farm effect” — the low allergy and asthma rates found among kids raised on farms — in central Europe, but less is known about the influence of growing up on North American farms.
What’s interesting is that this “farm effect” could be due to the Amish having big families, or the fact that they are spending more time outside or in barns than people on “modern” non-Amish farms.
Dr. Corinna Bowser said there’s also a possibility that inherited factors could play a role. “The Amish are still of a limited genetic pool, I would assume, because they’re much more segregated than the Swiss kids are,” she told Reuters Health.
Read more here: Amish farm kids remarkably immune to allergies: study (Reuters Health)
WebMD asked me whether honey could help against allergies caused by pollen. There are some studies from the laboratory that have given people hope that this is a potential non-medicinal treatment approach. But the reality is that you can’t apply those lab findings to patients:
“Bowser says she doesn’t consider the studies on honey and congestion to be adequate, for a few reasons: most allergy sufferers are sensitive to wind-carried pollens like grass and ragweed — the kind not carried by bees and transformed into honey.”
“If you want to treat someone for common allergies, it’s not commonly found in bee honey,” Bowser says.
“Even if there are allergens in the honey, it wouldn’t make a difference, because it gets broken down by stomach acids and doesn’t trigger an immunological response,” Bowser says. In contrast, “The pills we take for allergies are coated so they don’t get broken down,” she says.
Read the whole article here: Medicinal Uses of Honey (WebMD)