Your Health: ‘Tis the season for allergy awareness |

Your Health: ‘Tis the season for allergy awareness

Pollen from flowers, trees and other plants can wreak havoc on those affected by seasonal allergies. Those who experience health problems such as chronic sore throats or ear and sinus infections in the springtime also may be plagued by the condition without realizing it.
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Springtime brings with it warmer weather and blossoming plant life, but this combination can be less than pleasant if it’s causing your nose to run, your eyes to water or any number of other maladies tied to allergies.

Seasonal allergies can be a nuisance, and the conditions have been just right recently for those in Northwest Colorado to feel the effects heavily. The website indicates that the pollen count is high all across the state, meaning if you have a tendency toward hay fever, you may want to beware.

Pollen and other allergens that come with spring can throw the body’s immune system into overdrive, and while the symptoms of sniffling, sneezing, headache and other pains aren’t exactly fatal, the health condition can become more than just the occasional pest.

Robert Collins, a pathologist with The Memorial Hospital, has had significant allergic reactions and even with his own medical expertise has been at the mercy of grass, weeds and trees.

“I’m really more of a patient when it comes to that,” he said. “I used to have to drive all the way to Denver for treatments.”

Collins added that asthma has been a lifelong ailment for him, as well.

That’s not uncommon for the two to be linked, said Kristen Fahrner, an otolaryngologist — ear, nose and throat doctor — who practices in Craig and Steamboat Springs. The majority of asthmatics also experience allergies of some kind.

“They’re a huge trigger, and one thing you should talk to your doctor about is if you start to have shortness of breath or wheezing, especially in kids,” Fahrner said.

Allergies at a young age can compound issues such as asthma so much so that it can become a more serious health concern later in life, she added.

Fahrner has seen plenty of people in recent weeks afflicted by allergies, including young children whose persistent rubbing of their noses has the nickname “the allergic salute.”

Medications such as antihistamines, decongestants and nasal spray are available over the counter or by prescription, depending on the strength needed.

The Mayo Clinic lists extracts of the shrub butterbur and dried algae known as spirulina as potential home remedies for allergies but also recommends patients consult with a medical professional before trying these.

Preventative steps such as limiting outdoor exposure when pollen is prevalent and keeping indoor air free of the substance also are important.

While many people are well aware of the cause of their discomfort and treatments such as Claritin, Zyrtec and more, a great deal may be coping with other health problems caused by allergies and not even know it, among them chronic sore throats and infections in the ears or sinus cavity.

“They can be related to so many things,” Fahrner said.

Contact Andy Bockelman at 970-875-1793 or

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