Woodward, Okla. —
Have you been sniffling or sneezing lately and wondering why?
It may be allergies.
While many may associate allergies primarily with spring, Dr. Tim Kaiser said allergies can be a problem anytime in the year.
"I see it all year round," said Kaiser who is an allergist and otolaryngologist, or ear, nose and throat surgeon with ENT of Oklahoma, which has offices throughout Western Oklahoma.
"It just depends on what you're allergic to, when symptoms may be worse," he said. "If you're more allergic to fall-blooming weeds then that time of year will be worse for you. But if you're more allergic to grass blooming, then you'll have more problems in spring."
Still others may suffer from different types of allergies that have no set season, he said.
"If you're allergic to household dust, dust mites and mold, then it can be all year round," Kaiser said.
He said this year in particular has been difficult for many plant allergy sufferers because "we've had a fairly we year and lots of warm, but not terribly hot weather, and that gets the plants growing."
And currently many people may be suffering because "there's lots and lots and lots of weeds blooming in the last couple of weeks," he said.
3 TREATMENT OPTIONS
For those looking for some allergy relief, Kaiser said there are 3 general ways to treat allergies.
"The first is environmental control," he said.
This means managing the environment that you live in so that you protect yourself from potential allergens.
"This sounds good but I'm not sure how you can really manage it if you ever go outside, especially here in Oklahoma," Kaiser said.
While total environmental control may not be possible, the doctor said there are still ways to improve your environment, such as "using an air filter in the room you sleep in at night."
Even something as simple as taking a shower can help provide some relief.
"The first thing I tell people if they're having a lot of trouble is to get into the shower because the more of that stuff (allergens) they wash off of them, the better they'll feel. It's another form of environmental control and it usually works pretty well."
The second way to treat allergies is through medication, "this includes both prescription and over the counter medicine," Kaiser said.
The third allergy treatment option is immunotherapy, he said, describing it as "a way to desensitize you to the things you're sensitive to. It helps change your immune system so you're not as sensitive to certain allergens."
There are 2 main immunotherapy methods: 1) weekly shots administered by your physician, or 2) drops under your tongue, which can be administered at home.
Kaiser said any of the treatment options could be potentially effective in providing allergy relief, depending on your level of allergies.
"Environmental control is something that everybody can try," he said. "And they can try over the counter antihistamines, which are good if they work. And if they don't then people come see me (for immunotherapy treatment)."