Seasonal allergies -- often referred to as hay fever and allergic rhinitis -- affect millions of people each year. In the Pine Belt, where our vehicles are covered in fear-inducing yellow pollen every spring, we are all too familiar with the symptoms – sore throat, stuffy nose, itchy eyes, sneezing, congestion, and more. But what is the root cause, and how can we avoid these miserable symptoms? Recognizing that you have seasonal allergies and knowing how to treat them can be the drastic difference between a miserable spring and an enjoyable one.
“Many people confuse seasonal allergies with the common cold because the symptoms can be similar,” said Joshua Hand, M.D. with Merit Health Medical Group in Petal. “But, if you go outside and notice that symptoms worsen, your symptoms are more likely related to your body reacting to allergens in the air.”
Seasonal allergies result when the immune system recognizes an outdoor allergen, such as pollen, as dangerous, overreacting to these airborne substances. The symptoms can range from mild to severe, and there are other less common symptoms such as headache, shortness of breath, wheezing and coughing. Triggers of allergies differ from season to season. In the spring, summer, and fall months, outdoor plants like trees, grasses, and different species of ragweeds are the culprit, whereas during the winter months, pet dander, mold, dust mites, and even cockroaches can cause allergic reactions.
“When the weather is nice in the spring, we want to be outside more, which exposes us to all of the outdoor allergens. When it’s cold outside, we spend more time inside, which allows for more dander and other air pollutants to accumulate indoors and aggravate our airways,” said Dr. Hand.
While experts say the best way to treat seasonal allergies is by avoiding the allergens themselves, there are a few tricks to making life with seasonal allergies more bearable:
Medications are also an effective way to manage allergies, but healthcare professionals should be consulted to help find the medication that is best for your particular allergy.
“In a place like Mississippi where the weather never stays cold long enough to get rid of outdoor allergens, talking about a treatment plan with your doctor is a great place to start the assault against allergens,” said Dr. Hand.
For more information, or to schedule an appointment, call (601)584-4309 or visit WesleyPrimaryCare.com/Petal. The clinic is open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday, 8 a.m. to 12 noon, and Sunday, 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.
About Merit Health Wesley
As an affiliate of the state’s largest healthcare system, Merit Health Wesley is committed to providing superior care across the Pine Belt. Recognized for patient safety and for top performance on key quality measures, Merit Health Wesley is also the area’s first and only accredited Chest Pain Center and only area hospital to be accredited for Heart Failure care. For more information about Merit Health Wesley, call 601-268-8000.
About Merit Health
Merit Health serves the healthcare needs of residents of Mississippi through its 12 affiliated hospitals and 120 physician practices. The healthcare system offers a wide array of services including orthopedics, cardiology, women’s health, emergency departments and broad diagnostic medical and surgical services. The network has approximately 2,300 licensed beds, 2,500 physicians on the combined active medical staffs, and 7,000 employees, and more than 53,000 admissions and 300,000 emergency department visits each year.
5001 Hardy Street
Hattiesburg, MS 39402