Allergies at all-time high; what you can do to prevent symptoms

Allergies at all-time high; what you can do to prevent symptoms

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – Allergies are expected to hit the Myrtle Beach and Florence areas hard this season.  The mild winter may have been nice, but the warmer weather mixed with standing water from rain makes the perfect blend for a bad allergy season.

It's the stuff you can't see that may spark your allergies.  Tree pollen is in the air now, but grass pollen and ragweed in June is when your allergies might peak.  An allergy is the body's normal reaction to things it doesn't like.  A runny nose, coughing and headache are mild reactions that you can prevent.

The Mayo Clinic says to stay indoors on dry and windy days, hang your laundry inside and take a shower after being outdoors to minimize symptoms.  Keeping the air clean inside your home is important, too.  But local allergist Dr. Mark Schecker says the best ways to be proactive for season allergies is to take medications before you symptoms hit.

Dr. Schecker says the sooner, the better.  Any medication that is a non-sedative antihistamine will work.  He says it's important to try different allergy medications because some you may respond better to one medicine than another.  If you don't like taking pills, look for a non-sedative antihistamine nasal spray.  Either name brand or store brand is fine.

About one in four people suffer from allergies, Dr. Schecker says.  Although seasonal allergies can be severe, food allergies can be life-threatening.  Schecker says he sees more children than ever in his office, specifically with peanut allergies.

Food Allergy and Education reports one in every 13 children suffer from a food allergy and national rates for peanut allergies have tripled in the last ten years.  There's no clear reason as to why, but one study from the New England Journal of Medicine reports that feeding kids peanuts at young ages can help prevent them from developing a peanut allergy later.

What the researchers did was compare numbers of babies that developed the allergy after eating small amounts of peanuts and then not eating them for a year.  Researchers found that giving peanuts to infants lowered rates of an allergy by 80 percent compared to babies whose parents kept them away from peanuts. Dr. Schecker says doctors used to think certain food avoidance was key…but that's not the case anymore

"Kids are growing up in more sterile environments and are not exposed to infection agents, not exposed to other triggering factors to immune system…so because of that might be more prone to developing allergies as they grow up," he said.

Babies with eczema or a family history of food allergies should only try foods like peanuts under a doctor's supervision.  Eight foods account for ninety percent of all reactions.  Those foods fall under the dairy, nut, wheat, soy and seafood categories.

It's recommended you create a food allergy emergency plan with your doctor if you're diagnosed with a serious food allergy.  This way, you know what to do should you have a reaction, and others can help you.

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