Allergy season is coming, so what makes you sneeze or itch?
Jeff Deminski has left on his honeymoon, so Joe Votruba has joined me today to talk about allergies - inspired by this recent story by New Jersey 101.5's Joe Cutter.
A typical allergy season begins with tree pollen, which could become a problem in the coming weeks. Then later, as summer approaches, it will be grass pollen. Then finally toward the fall comes the ragweed pollen.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 17.6 million adults and 6.6 million children have been diagnosed with hay fever -- or seasonal allergies --in the past 12 months.
One expert says right now, it is too to determine how severe this allergy season will be. Dr. Michael Mattikow of Wayne, an allergist, immunologist and an associate clinical professor at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School has been looking at pollen counts for years.
"There is absolutely no way of predicting," Mattikow said.
According to Mattikow, the severity of each allergy season is difficult to determine until the season actually begins and the plant life that produce the pollen and other allergens begins to bloom.
Mattikow said he does not put a lot of stock in pollen counts.
"When you hear the pollen counts, it isn't really that important because a lot of the pollen that they are telling about are not pollens that cause allergies. That's number one," he said. "Number two, the length of the season -- in other words if you start early and you have it day after day after day -- is more important than having a few short, higher counts."
What can people with allergies do to protect themselves from the allergens? Mattikow says the best defense for severe sufferers is to stay indoors in the early morning and late afternoon.
"In dry, windy days when the stuff is polinating, you don't go out early in the morning, you don't go out when the sun goes down. You stay indoors in air conditioning," Mattikow said.
As for medications, the physician said there are, "many many, many treatments. Nasal sprays around, eye drops, antihistamines, and if you have asthma, the inhalers."
If you are not getting results with those treatments, the doctor said allergy sufferers can "desensitize," which is the only way to change the immune system. According to Mattikow, there are two methods in this country right now to desensitize. One involves inter dermal injections which desensitize patients against the pollens to which they are allergic. More recently, a sublingual application treatment which allergy sufferers ingest by placing under their tongues, is also available.