When it comes to allergy season, Louisiana doesn’t necessarily play by the rules. Although most people believe that springtime is the peak season for allergy symptoms, Louisiana residents are exposed nearly year-round to some of the most common allergy triggers.
“Allergy-causing pollens bloom in our backyards in virtually every season except winter,” says Dr. Bridget Loehn, ENT and Allergy Specialist with Imperial Health. “Louisianans suffer through ragweed from August to October, then tree pollens from April to June, and finally, allergy-causing grasses from May to September. When allergy-causing pollens aren’t blooming, we still have to deal with other allergy pests that flourish in Louisiana’s climate, like dust mites and mold.”
Dr. Loehn says for many people in the region, spring and summer are the peak seasons for sneezing, sniffling, itchy eyes and more. “In this area, tree pollens are very high and are a very common allergy trigger. Grass pollen levels peak in the summer, and mold spores, animal dander and dust mites are always present.”
Airborne pollens and mold spores are almost impossible to avoid, according to Dr. Loehn. She says allergy sufferers can help control their symptoms by checking pollen and mold counts in the area. These counts can be found on several allergy websites, such as pollen.com, and there are apps you can download to make tracking even easier. “If you know pollen and mold counts are high, it might be a good idea to stay indoors and purchase a good air filter to reduce your exposure,” advises Dr. Loehn. “For people very sensitive to airborne pollens, wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants to protect your skin when spending extended periods outdoors.”
She adds that you can reduce your exposure to dust mites by covering your mattress and pillow in a dust mite proof cover, vacuuming frequently, dehumidifying, and spraying dust mite killing agents on carpeting and furniture upholstered with fabric cloth. “And if you have an allergy to an animal, try to keep your animal outdoors or at least out of your bedroom,” says Dr. Loehn. “Nasal rinses with saline are helpful in washing out allergic particles from your nose if you have had extended exposure to outside pollens and mold spores.”
High indoor humidity can trigger mold growth. High humidity could be caused by poor construction or inadequate air exchange. In warm climates, such as Louisiana, air conditioning, heating and ventilation systems can pull warmer air inside. It’s also crucial that homeowners have their HVAC systems maintained regularly.
Dr. Loehn says even avoidance won’t stop allergy symptoms for some people. She explains that there are several categories of allergy medications: antihistamines, leukotriene inhibitors, steroid sprays, and decongestants, along with eye drops containing antihistamines for those with severe eye itching and tearing. “Some over-the-counter medications work for some people; others may require stronger, prescription medication.”
For people who fail to get significant relief with allergy medications, Dr. Loehn says allergy testing and desensitization therapy may be recommended. “The key is identifying the cause of your allergy and pinpointing the right treatment for you. If you suffer with allergies that are making you miserable and keeping you from enjoying your normal activities, you should see a qualified doctor for help in managing your allergy symptoms.”
For more information about allergy testing and treatment, call Dr. Loehn’s office to schedule an appointment at (337) 419-1960.