When is allergy season? More like, when is it not allergy season?

When is allergy season? Don’t be silly

When is allergy season

In the south, we tend to think of allergy season as the early spring when we see the heavy yellow pollen on our cars, well basically on everything. The crazy thing about this pollen is that very few people are allergic to this yellow pine pollen. It is the tree pollens we can’t easily see that give us the most outdoor allergy problems.  Of course there are indoor allergens that can be just as bad for some people. The indoor allergens are a problem year round, with most common ones being dust mites, pet dander, mold and mildew.

What can you do to help with indoor allergens? Well, for dust mites which typically are found in carpets, bedding and upholstered furniture you need to use High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters. These help eliminate dust and other allergens, including pollen in your home. You should also dust with a damp cloth weekly, wash all bedding weekly and vacuum carpets often.

Pet dander is another common indoor allergen that bothers a lot of people. What can you do if you love cats and dogs but are allergic? Try to keep them off upholstered furniture and carpets and out of the bedroom because their dander, or dead skin flakes will remain in the carpet and furniture. Bathe pets frequently to wash away dander as well as any pollen that may be in their fur. You should also have your carpets steam cleaned often.

An allergen that is both an indoor and an outdoor problem is mold. Indoor molds grow in damp areas, like under a sink, basement or in the shower or tub. Outdoors mold is found in the fall in piles of leaves and weeds that have gotten wet and are rotting. You can keep mold levels lower by keeping bathrooms, basements and other damp areas clean and as dry as possible. You can help eliminate outdoor mold by removing leaves and weeds from your yard as soon as they fall.

Probably the most common allergen we think of in Georgia is tree pollen. Tree pollen is usually the first seasonal allergen to appear in our area each year, often as early as January. By February we start to have other pollens in the air, such as alder and maple. March is when most of us really begin to feel allergy symptoms from pollen, pollens from juniper, elm, oak and alder really start to appear. Weeds also begin to pollinate and bother people’s allergies as well. April is still very pollen filled, with weeds such as nettle creeping in our area.

May hits many people quite hard, getting hit by both tree and grass pollens. June is the height of grass pollen like Bermuda, rye and oat. July is when weeds really start to come in strong. By August and September, weeds such as pigweed, ragweed, and nettle are in full effect. Mold also really begins to affect some people at this time as well. Mold is the main concern for November, as ragweed has finally started to end. In December, outdoor allergens are at their lowest of the year.

To avoid pollens, you should try to not go outdoors between 10 AM and 4 PM if at all possible. If you do go out, shower immediately, including shampooing your hair during peak pollen season. Also wash your pets as soon as they come in from outdoors. They are little pollen magnets and bring it into your house on their fun. This can be difficult though when the question “When is allergy season?” is not even really relevant.

The best and most effective way to deal with allergies is the find out what you are allergic to. You can do this by have a simple, fast, allergy test done at the ENT Institute. Once you know exactly what you are allergic to, you can begin to take the right steps to eliminate these things from your surroundings and also begin immunotherapy to help your body better handle these allergens and build up a tolerance for them.

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Is school making my family sick?

If often seems that back to school means back to the doctor for many kids and parents. They always seem to wonder why is school making my family sick?

Schools seem to be a breeding ground for illnesses, especially infections such as ear infections, sinus infections and strep throat. Did you know that almost 80% of what people miss school or work for are ear, nose and throat related issues? These conditions are easily spread in classroom, playgrounds and after school activities.  Encourage your child to wash their hands often and not put pencils and other often shared items in or near their mouth or nose. Children’s immune systems are not as effective as and adults, making it more difficult to fight infections.

school making my family sick
school making my family sick

Children are more prone to ear infections because the Eustachian tubes are smaller and more level than in adults. This makes it more difficult for fluid to drain out of the ear. If the Eustachian tubes are swollen or blocked with mucus due to a cold or sinus infection, the fluid may not be able to drain at all. Often times the child’s adenoids, which normally, as part of the immune system, respond or fight bacteria passing through the nose and mouth. Sometimes bacteria can get trapped in the adenoids, causing an infection that can pass on to the Eustachian tubes and middle ear. How to tell your child may have an ear infection? Is she pulling at her ear? Complaining of ear pain? Having trouble sleeping? Has she recently had a cold or sore throat?

It is often difficult to tell if your child has a cold or a sinus infection, especially for the first few days. Common symptoms are blocked or congested nostrils, drainage of a thick, yellow or greenish discharge from the nose or down the back of the throat, fever, facial pressure and pain, especially in the cheeks, forehead temples and behind the eyes.  The patient may also suffer from a persistent cough, dental pain, ear pain and fatigue. If symptoms last for more than a few days, a visit to an ENT may be necessary.  

For an occasional sinus infections, antibiotics may be prescribed, if sinus infections continue and you have more than 4 a year, the child may be a candidate for an in office procedure called Balloon Sinuplasty, that is a minimally invasive procedure that opens the sinus pathways and immediately relieves the sinus pressure and pain. Patients can usually return to normal activities the next day.

Another common illness often spread at schools and daycares is strep throat. Strep throat is a contagious illness that is spread from person-to-person. It is usually spread typically in the form of airborne respiratory droplets, such as from a cough or sneeze. The symptoms usually begin between 1 to 4 days after initially acquiring the infection. The symptoms can range from mild to severe. The sore throat starts suddenly, and the tonsils and the back of the throat may appear red and swollen. With strep throat, swallowing is painful, often making it hard to drink fluids which can lead to dehydration. A visit to the ENT Institute will allow you child to be seen by a specialist who can quickly diagnose and treat the strep throat infection.

Yes, schools can be a breeding ground for illnesses and infections. It is important to remind you child to wash their hands often, not drink after someone else, and to not put things in or near their mouth or nose. If you do think your child may have one of these common illnesses, call the ENT Institute for an appointment 770-740-1860

Schedule an appointment at The ENT Institute