6 Things To Know Before Allergy Season

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Feb. 21, 2023

As spring begins, pollen settles across South Carolina. Pollen from trees, grasses and weeds causes many to suffer from seasonal allergies. About 8 percent of adults and 7 percent of children in the U.S. have seasonal allergies

Here are some things you should know  about seasonal allergies:

1. Start taking medications before allergy season starts. 

If you struggle with allergies in the spring or fall, start taking a daily antihistamine or steroid nasal spray at the start of each allergy season. These are sold over the counter. 

Taking medications early can stop the worst symptoms from starting, says Dr. Lloyd Kapp, medical director with BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina. 

2. Take medications as directed and always read the labels.

If you know you have seasonal allergies take over-the-counter medications every day. You can take these medications even if you have not been tested for allergies. Antihistamines and steroid nasal sprays can keep allergy symptoms mild. If you miss a day, start back as soon as you can. 

It is important to take them as directed

3. Know when to get tested. 

It can be a good idea to visit a doctor if you continue to have allergy symptoms while taking medications. The doctor may want to do a test to determine what you are allergic to. 

A doctor can talk to you about other treatment options, such as immunotherapy or allergy shots.

4. Know the symptoms. 

Seasonal allergies can cause:

  • A clear runny nose 
  • Watery eyes 
  • Itchy nose
  • Congestion.  

5. Get help for a sinus infection. 

“A cold usually lasts a week or two. You should be getting better after about five to seven days. That’s where you see a sinus infection kick in. You will start to get worse rather than better,” Dr. Kapp says.

A sinus infection develops when the sinuses get blocked. Medical experts say to wait seven to 10 days before treating a sinus infection. Sinus problems usually get better after a week or two on their own.

Symptoms of a sinus infection are: 

  • Tenderness over the sinuses
  • Thick drainage
  • Fever. 

6. Don’t rush to take an antibiotic. 

Antibiotics treat bacterial infections. They do not work on viruses like the common cold. They also do not treat seasonal allergies. Viruses and allergies cause most sinus problems.

“If you start taking an antibiotic at the onset of symptoms for a virus or allergy, it will not help. It will not change how you feel, and it won’t prevent anything. Bacteria can develop resistance to antibiotics from overuse,” Dr. Kapp says. 

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