May is National Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month

In the last few weeks I have had a steady stream of patients coming into my Lansing, St. John, and Griffith pharmacies sneezing and cough, or their nose and eyes itch and are runny. I tell them they may be suffering from seasonal allergies. Grass, pollen and mold are the most common triggers of seasonal allergies.

Experts are saying that the warm up around much of the country experienced in February could mean an earlier, longer and more intense allergy season. Pollen counts across the U.S. are higher due to the warm weather – even though we did get a blast of winter in March.

It’s no surprise May is National Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month.

Must a earlier, longer and more intense allergy season leave you helpless in the face of increased allergy triggers? No. Following are some American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology tips on coping with pollen and other allergens that arrive with warmer weather.

Don’t self-medicate – You may think “I got this covered” when it comes to treating symptoms, but a recent study shows most allergy sufferers find prescription medication more effective than over-the-counter cures. Yet most people don’t seek the help of an allergist who is trained to identify exactly what they are allergic to, and prescribe the most appropriate medication to treat their symptoms.

Get ahead of symptoms – One thing many allergy sufferers may not be aware of is that if you start taking your allergy medications before the worst symptoms hit, your suffering will be greatly alleviated. Although people think spring starts in April or May, spring allergy symptoms begin earlier, so start taking your prescription allergy medications two to three weeks before your symptoms normally appear.

Most effective – and natural – treatment for allergies – Many people in search of “natural” allergy treatments don’t realize that immunotherapy – allergy shots – are actually the most natural treatment of all. Immunotherapy involves giving gradually increasing doses of the substances you’re allergic to. The incremental increases of the allergens cause the immune system to become less sensitive, which reduces allergy symptoms in the future. Immunotherapy is also effective in treating allergic asthma. Allergy shots help relieve the allergic reactions that trigger asthma episodes and decrease the need for asthma medications.

According to the ACAAI while you’re battling those terrible allergens, keep in mind that you can affect change at home.

  • Monitor pollen and mold counts. Weather reports often include this information. Checkout American Academy of Allergy Asthmia & Immunology for reports.
  • Keep windows and doors shut at home and in your car during allergy season.
  • Stay inside midday and during the afternoon, when pollen counts are highest.
  • Take a shower, wash your hair and change your clothes after you’ve been working or playing outdoors.
  • Wear a NIOSH-rated 95 filter mask when mowing the lawn or doing other chores outdoors, and take appropriate medication beforehand.

If you think you might be one of the more than 50 million Americans that suffer from allergy and asthma Find an Allergist, track your symptoms at and watch this video to learn more about Spring Sneezing Season.