Last Modified: Wednesday, February 27, 2013 9:33 AM
There’s no rest for allergy sufferers in Southwest Louisiana, whose warm climate ensures that the pollen seasons — trees, grass, weeds — run one after the other, said a local ear, nose and throat specialist.
“Unfortunately, we live in Louisiana, it’s a much milder climate so we don’t see a winter freeze and the coldness that kills off plants,” said Jeffrey Daigle, physician assistant at Southwest Louisiana Ear, Nose & Throat.
“We see our allergy seasons running all together. It’s almost a year-round thing living in Louisiana, but different people are allergic to different pollens, so they are affected at different times of the year.”
Tree season typically runs from the end of December or beginning of January through May — as evidenced by the green or yellow film on cars and other things outside.
After that comes grass season, which lasts until around July and is then followed by weed season. That ends with the first winter freeze.
Daigle said the amount of pollen in the air can depend on how much it has rained and how cold the winter months were.
“There are going to be times when pollen is higher; again it depends on what each person is allergic to,” he said. “For instance, we have four grasses in this region. If someone is allergic to all four of them, then their allergen load is going to be much higher than that of someone who is only allergic to one.”
Daigle said the sinuses warm cold winter air as we breathe — which is why patients find they are more congested when it’s colder. Combine that with allergies and people see more severe symptoms because “the nose just can’t account for all the swelling,” he said.
Some of the most common symptoms: itchy, watery eyes; sneezing; nasal congestion; and runny nose.
Dr. Brad LeBert, at Southwest Louisiana Ear, Nose & Throat, said he gives patients several recommendations to combat allergy symptoms and that there are “environmental things” that people can do depending on which season they are affected by.
“One thing a lot of patients like to do during the cool days of spring is open up their windows and air out their house,” he said. “If a patient suffers from allergens during the spring season, then that’s the worst thing they could do. What they are doing is allowing the pollen to come into their house rather than keeping it outdoors.”
Daigle said people who suffer from allergies shouldn’t dry their clothes outside because that could make matters worse. And they should wait until the afternoon to cut their grass because the pollen count is lower then than in the morning.
LeBert said keeping pets out of bedrooms can help combat allergy symptoms, as can removing carpets — which may harbor dust mites, pollen and pet dander. “Another recommendation is to keep ceiling fans dusted and use air purifiers to remove the pollen from the air,” he said.
LeBert said some allergy sufferers can find relief in over-the-counter antihistamines — like Claritin, Zyrtec and Allegra. But, he said, people with high blood pressure should be wary of any such products with a “D.”
He said the letter indicates the medicine contains the decongestant pseudoephedrine, which can cause problems with blood pressure.
Daigle said that some patients with severe symptoms will require a prescription from a physician.
“What works for one person may not work for another person,” LeBert said. “It varies from person to person depending on what they are allergic to and how their body reacts.”
According to weather.com the pollen count through Friday is “high” for tree pollen, “medium” for grass pollen, and inactive for weed pollen.