It’s high season for allergies. Are you ready?

little boy sneezing

Sneezing? Check. Stuffy nose? Yes. Watery eyes? Yup.

Must be allergy season in South Carolina.

Seasonal allergies are caused by exposure to substances in the air (such as pollen) that appear only during certain times of the year. In Charleston, the main culprit in the spring is tree pollens (grass and ragweed allergies become a problem in the fall). Pollen arrived early in Charleston this year, thanks to a mild, wet winter and early spring. That means we’re facing a longer allergy season than usual.

Some allergens — such as yellow pollen you see on cars and other outdoor surfaces — are obvious. Others are microscopic and float in the air. While many people develop allergies at a young age, seasonal allergies can happen later in life. That’s because allergies develop based on your level of exposure. Eventually, your immune system may say “enough!”

Take control of your allergies

The worst weather conditions for people with seasonal allergies are warm, breezy and dry days. Rain can bring relief, but it’s only temporary.

Pollen is unavoidable, but these tips can help you reduce your exposure:

Your smartphone can help you track local allergens and log your symptoms. Check out the app store on your phone for popular products such as Allergy Pollen Count, My Pollen Forecast and Allergy Alert. They’re free!

Medication, allergy shots can help

Over-the-counter antihistamines and nasal sprays work best if you begin taking them a week or two before symptoms appear. These are effective for most people, but many of us need prescription drugs to experience relief. And allergy shots can help, although they typically need six months to take full effect.

Still sniffling through the season? Maybe it’s time to ask your primary care provider or an allergy specialist for help. Find the right doctor for you by searching our online directory or by calling our physician referral line at (843) 402-CARE.


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