Got Allergies? Solutions for Seasonal Sniffles

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Don't Delay Treatment and Watch What You Eat

You may be able to find relief with over-the-counter medications. If those haven't worked in the past, consider seeing an allergist about prescription options. Either way, do it now.

"We generally recommend starting with something like a steroid nasal spray before the season begins, rather than waiting for symptoms to set in," says Rohit Katial, MD, director of allergy and immunology clinical services at the National Jewish Medical and Research Center, in Denver. Why? After your nose has been "primed" by pollen exposure early in the spring, it often takes less and less pollen to trigger symptoms as the months go by. "If you start the season with your nose already irritated, you may feel the effects with even less pollen," Dr. Katial explains.

"In perhaps one-third of all allergy sufferers, certain foods may worsen seasonal allergy symptoms," says Dr. Bassett. Called oral allergy syndrome, it's a cross-reaction that happens when people who have been sensitized to certain pollens eat foods that have similar proteins. For example, if you're allergic to birch tree pollen, the top springtime allergen, cross-reactions can be caused by foods such as apples, pears, peaches, kiwis, plums, coriander, fennel, parsley, celery, cherries, carrots, almonds, and hazelnuts (including extracts used to flavor coffee). You may notice itching or swelling on your lips, tongue or throat when you eat these.

In a small percentage of cases, your symptoms could become severe. It's important to see an allergist, who can do skin tests to determine which types of pollen bother you; based on the results, he can give you a list of foods to avoid. Sometimes cooking or peeling the food can prevent a reaction, which isn't the case with a true food allergy.

Continued on page 3:  More Solutions


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