Doctors credit spring-like weather to allergy complaint hike - East Valley Tribune: Tempe

Doctors credit spring-like weather to allergy complaint hike

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Posted: Friday, March 16, 2012 6:47 am | Updated: 8:22 am, Sun Mar 18, 2012.

Trees. Grass. Pollen.

Achoo!

Allergists said they’re seeing an influx of patients complaining of nose, eye and throat irritation as the triple whammy of spring allergies strikes Valley residents.

“This is typically a bad time for allergies for a number of reasons,” said Dr. Neal Jain, an allergist and immunologist for Gilbert’s San Tan Allergy and Asthma and Maricopa Medical Center.

Though there’s been a lack of rain, mesquite and ash trees are still pollinating, he said. And, with the lack of dampness to keep dirt down, the winds may be kicking up molds in the desert more.

Plus, he said, “We’re still watering our lawns.”

“You get everything all at once which leads to misery for a lot of patients,” Jain said.

Those lawns may be a key player in the misery, said Dr. Radha Rishi, an allergist and immunologist with Arizona Allergy Associates, which has offices in Mesa and Chandler.

Temperatures in the Valley mean winter and summer grass.

“Grass pollen here is year-round, from February to November. Where you get colder weather you see that decline in the winter. We don’t see that here,” she said. “We’ve been seeing a lot of people coming in with nose symptoms, eye symptoms and some with asthma symptoms.”

It’s not just people new to the Valley or winter visitors, Jain said. In some cases, longtime Arizona residents are suddenly feeling the effects of allergies.

“We’re seeing people who have lived here all their lives now sneezing with watery, itchy eyes, feeling tired and miserable all the time,” he said.

Avoidance when possible is key, the doctors said. That may mean limiting time outdoors, keeping windows shut, and changing filters on the home cooling and heating symptoms.

Rishi said a shower at night before bedtime can wash away pollens. She also recommends removing shoes at the door so they don’t track in allergens.

There are several over-the-counter medications, the doctors said, but for more severe symptoms, prescription nasal sprays or eye drops may be in order.

“For those who are really allergic, injections can desensitize you and take away the environmental allergenics over time,” Rishi said.

Jain said some people may find additional relief with nonmedical alternatives, such as vitamins, nasal irrigations and fish oil. The effect of allergy drops is still being researched, he said.

“Data suggests it probably does work, but it has to be done in very specific ways that may be cost prohibitive,” he said.

Shots prescribed by a board-certified doctor have proven to be effective for a vast majority of people, he said.

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