By: Michelle Booth | Category: Health & Fitness | Issue: March 2011
Allergist James A. Murray, M.D., offers tips on dealing with spring allergies.
Spring is around the corner and for the many allergy sufferers in Oklahoma, this brings an onset of coughing, headaches and watery eyes due to the increase in tree pollen. There are several options available for allergy relief, including numerous over-the-counter medications or a visit to your family physician, who can prescribe more effective medications. If you have explored these options and are still having trouble with symptoms, it may be time to consider visiting an allergy physician.
Allergist James Murray, M.D., recommends being selective when searching for such a doctor. “First and foremost, people need to find someone worthy of their care,” said Murray. “The physician should also be well trained and board certified.” Beyond that, Dr. Murray suggests finding a doctor located near to where you work or live. This will make the trips to the doctor for routine allergy shots much more feasible.
Even more convenient is a doctor that sends monthly allergy shots to their patients so they can administer the injections themselves. “Some people prefer the extra convenience of dispensing their allergy shots in the comfort of their own home,” said Dr. Murray. “Our patients that travel find this service extremely advantageous.” Finally, he encourages people to make sure their insurance will help cover the allergy health care costs.
Spring also introduces allergy sufferers to a phenomenon that Dr. Murray refers to as the “Priming Effect.” He explains that regardless of how well protected patients are on their allergy program, exposure to pollens for the first time in many months may exacerbate old allergy symptoms with sneezing, hay fever, watery eyes, wheezing and chest congestion. This Priming Effect is usually short lived and will respond to a few days’ dosage of antihistamines and increasing the strength or frequency of the injections.
Dr. Murray cautions allergy suffers, especially joggers, to be aware of a condition called exercise-induced asthma. “Exercising outdoors and deeply inhaling air that contains particles to which they are allergic can add to a wheezing attack just on the basis of exercise alone.” He offers several suggestions for the asthmatic patient who wishes to engage in physical exercise. The first is to take asthma medications approximately 30 minutes prior to exercising in order to prevent the onset of an attack. Also, it has been found beneficial to have warm-up and cool-down periods of approximately 30 minutes each.
Dr. Murray wants allergy sufferers to know that given the scientific advances in allergy care, they can live full, happy, symptom-free lives. “As allergists, we strive to help people build their natural immunity so they are protected,” he said. “The goal is to get patients back to a normal life that includes playing sports, gardening, or whatever outdoor activities they enjoy.”
To minimize your exposure to pollen: