CHRISTUS HEALTH — Spring is here and so is allergy season

Published 12:06 am Thursday, March 21, 2024

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This week marks the official start to spring, and as warmer weather begins to settle in, the season brings with it an unwanted guest: allergies.

More than 25 percent of Americans — approximately 80 million people — suffer from seasonal allergies, which can range from a mild nuisance to a near-debilitating issue, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Allergy symptoms, for some, can last year round because of the area we live in,” said Dr. William Pickard, family medicine physician with CHRISTUS Southeast Texas Health System. “The key is to be proactive in providing yourself relief during the season.”

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He says taking an antihistamine early in allergy season before symptoms start, using an air purifier at home, avoiding outdoor activities in the morning where pollen counts are highest and tracking your local pollen counts are all ways to prepare for the allergy season.

In Southeast Texas, high counts of pollens like cedar, elm, oak and ragweed are extremely common, and due to humidity, mold spores can make symptoms worse.

While individuals frequently attribute their illnesses to allergies, he said it is important to be aware there is a chance of having a common cold.

“One of the challenges is determining whether the symptoms are allergy or common cold-related as they are very similar: congestion, sneezing, itchy throat, and runny nose,” Pickard said.

“The key difference is a cold will normally include a period of having a fever and should resolve itself in a few days, whereas allergy symptoms can persist for a much longer period.”

Pickard said anyone with severe allergies may want to consider taking a daily antihistamine such as Claritin, Allegra or Zyrtec, but to alternate between different ones in three-month periods so your immune system avoids building up a tolerance to one kind.

For those with less-severe symptoms, over-the-counter remedies such as nasal corticosteroids, nasal rinses and decongestants should alleviate symptoms.

“Individuals should contact their health provider if symptoms persist and significantly impact their daily activities or simply continue to worsen over time,” he said.

“Allergy season can feel never-ending, and our goal is to give each patient the relief they need.”

To learn more about allergy symptoms and relief with CHRISTUS Health, visit our website,