Tips for Surviving Pollen Allergies

Posted in News Release

WASHINGTON (April 10, 2014) – We’ve heard the warnings about this year’s allergy season, and now it’s here. You’re in the midst of a pollen allergy attack! Your eyes are red, watery and itchy; your nose is clogged; and you can’t stop scratching.

Left untreated, symptoms can evolve from being a nuisance into something more serious such as a sinus infection, eye infection or bronchitis.

What can you do?

“There are some simple and effective things you can do to alleviate the symptoms,” says Sally Joo Bailey, MD, assistant professor of allergy and immunology at Georgetown University School of Medicine.

“The obvious strategy is to try an over-the-counter antihistamine, such as Zyrtec, Claritin or Allegra,” Bailey says, but don’t stop there.

“Shower when you get home from school or work. Wash your hair and body and change into clean clothes.” Bailey says this helps prevent the spread of pollen around the house and from continued exposure even while indoors. Also, In order to keep your home and car a pollen free zone, she advises keeping windows closed in both.

“If you have nasal congestion, try washing your nasal-sinus cavity with a Neti pot or saline sinus rinse to remove pollen. Follow that with a nasal steroid spray.” One spray that Bailey recommends patients try is Nasacort, which is now over the counter.

“If your eyes are affected, rinse them with preservative free re-wetting drops or natural tears, then apply antihistamine eye drops.” Bailey says a pharmacist can help you find the right eye drops. “Also, a warm compress on the eyes can help, itchy red irritated eyes,” she says.

Bailey adds, “For itchy skin, after taking a lukewarm, not hot, shower, apply a nice thick moisturizer. If that doesn’t provide enough relief then apply a 1 percent hydrocortisone cream once to twice a day for a couple of days.”

Finally, Bailey warns that if you are experiencing respiratory symptoms such as wheezing, coughing or shortness of breath, see a doctor. These could be symptoms of allergic asthma. 

“An allergist can help you find out exactly what you’re allergic to and help find the best personalized treatment options for you,” she concludes.

About Georgetown University Medical Center

Georgetown University Medical Center (GUMC) is an internationally recognized academic medical center with a three-part mission of research, teaching and patient care (through MedStar Health).  GUMC’s mission is carried out with a strong emphasis on public service and a dedication to the Catholic, Jesuit principle of cura personalis — or “care of the whole person.”  The Medical Center includes the School of Medicine and the School of Nursing & Health Studies, both nationally ranked; Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, designated as a comprehensive cancer center by the National Cancer Institute; and the Biomedical Graduate Research Organization, which accounts for the majority of externally funded research at GUMC including a Clinical and Translational Science Award from the National Institutes of Health.