By Kathryn Moore, Staff Writer
For thousands of people in Tennessee with pollen allergies, changing seasons brings misery and discomfort, but prevention and allergy medications can alleviate their symptoms.
Paul Mayer, family nurse practitioner and director of Health Services, estimates nearly 25 percent of Union students suffer from some kind of seasonal allergy each spring.
“The causes of each person’s specific allergic reaction are different,” Mayer said. “Some people may be allergic to grass pollen, while others may be allergic to tree pollen. Still others may be affected by a combination of the two pollens.”
Symptoms of pollen allergies can include sneezing, watery eyes, runny nose, itchy throat and nasal congestion.
To prevent allergic reactions without medication, Mayer suggests keeping track of the pollen count each day. The Weather Channel offers a feature on its website called PollenCast that reports forecasted pollen levels for trees, grass and weeds.
Taking showers at night also will remove pollen from hair and skin, allowing for a better night’s sleep.
For those who cannot avoid springtime allergies, over-the-counter medications called antihistamines, taken before the onset of allergy season, can be effective in alleviating symptoms.
Over-the-counter antihistamines vary in price, sedation level and side effects.
Dr. Joy Greene, associate professor of pharmacy, teaches the allergic rhinitis section of the pharmacotherapy course. She said first generation antihistamines include fairly inexpensive medicines such as Benadryl, which must be dosed every four to six hours.
Some patients cannot find relief in even prescription medications. Mayer said he refers these patients to an allergist.