By Olivia Neely

With the arrival of spring, many folks have noticed pollen building up on their cars, doorsteps and other areas. Budding trees and flowers this time of year means many people will suffer symptoms related to seasonal allergies.

Those symptoms include sneezing, watery eyes, runny nose, itchy throat, nasal congestion, cough and sore throat.

Dr. Ken Johnson, of Wilson ENT & Sinus Center, says pollen counts vary depending on the time of the year and what is growing outside. He says tree and grass pollens are prevalent during the spring.

“Summer tends to be bad for grass and weed pollens,” he says.

He adds that some allergens, including dust, animal danders and mold, can be problems for people all year long. Pollens can irritate mucous membranes.

For many, pollens can also trigger an immune response, which results in allergic rhinitis (hay fever) and even asthma.

Johnson says folks can cope with seasonal allergies by being aware of pollen counts.

“Counts are highest between 5 and 10 a.m., and then again at dusk,” he says. “When they are high, stay inside as much as possible.”

Johnson notes pollen levels can be found online.

Coping with Allergies

Johnson says there are a few things people can do to cope with allergies, including keeping your windows closed, vacuuming regularly and considering a hypo-allergenic filter for your home HVAC ductwork.

Johnson also recommends using an over-the-counter saline nasal rinse several times a day. People can ask their physician about medical options, which can vary from a variety of over-the-counter medicines to prescription medicines.

“Many patients also benefit from immunotherapy or allergy shots,” Johnson says. “Generally, if your symptoms are interfering with your daily life, it is probably worth asking for help.”

Nasal allergies and asthma often go hand in hand because the disease is similar for each.

“With asthma, the disease symptoms can be severe and even life-threatening,” Johnson says. “People with asthma should check pollen counts and try to control their home environments to the best of their abilities. As a general rule, anyone who has asthma should be under the care of a physician.”

Johnson says while each year is different, many people begin to have trouble with allergies later in life.

“If you haven’t had allergy trouble in the past, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you won’t have trouble in the future,” he says.