According to the experts, we’re in for another extended allergy season due, in part, to the impact of climate change. So there may be more pollen than ever in our air and our immune systems will have to work overtime to fight back.
“In our local area, people who have always had manageable symptoms are suddenly having unmanageable symptoms,” says Dr. Steve Schnipper, a board-certified allergist who has practiced in New Rochelle and New York City for more than 15 years.
Dr. Schnipper explained that in the New York City area the biggest seasonal problem is tree pollen, typically in April and May. But this year, because of the cold weather and rain in April, symptoms were not too bad then. “But once it warmed up in May–just the last two weeks– all the pollen came out and we are seeing a lot more people who are really suffering,” he said.
Besides staying indoors as much as possible and other avoidance methods, some experts also say it’s worth considering natural remedies, along with the usual prescription medicines and over-the-counter drugs.
One natural remedy is nasal saline irrigation– you actually can flush out irritants in your nose with a saline solution. This treatment may not last as long as over-the-counter or prescription allergy drugs like antihistamines, but it does provide some relief, according to recent research. In particular, using this type of remedy may help children. A 2008 study of 401 kids found that they had fewer nasal and cold symptoms over several months after using a nasal wash, and needed less medicine.
If you prefer to try better-established strategies to treat your symptoms, you can find more information at the Best Buy Drugs report on allergy treatments. Or watch this video about antihistamines with Dr. Marvin Lipman who practices at Scarsdale Medical Group and is medical consultant for Consumer Reports.
Joyce H. Newman is an Emmy Award-winning environmental journalist, educator, and gardener. She holds a Certificate in Horticulture from The New York Botanical Garden, and is a tour guide there.