S.H.E.: Allergies, Asthma and how to cope

Sneezing, itchy and watery eyes and a runny or stuffy nose can all be symptoms of allergies. This spring and summer have been particularly difficult for allergy sufferers due to the late arrival of spring weather and heavy rainfall in April. Dr. Vincent Dubravec of Allergy and Asthma Specialists of West Michigan offers insights and tips on distinguishing and coping with allergies.

“Tree pollen season was particularly strong this year, due to the wintery spring delaying the tree pollen season, condensing it into one large explosion of tree pollen that affected a lot of people much more severely than typical,” Dr. Dubravec said.

Along with increased tree pollen, the heavy rainfall also created an issue with mold growth both indoors and outside. Those who suffer from both indoor and outdoor allergies have had a difficult spring, but it is important to verify that symptoms are caused by allergies and not a virus. According to Dr. Dubravec, allergies are confirmed through a thorough

health history, physical exam and testing.

“Avoidance of allergy triggers is always best,” Dr. Dubravec said. “It’s difficult to avoid outdoor allergensclosing the windows and running the air conditioner may help some, but once outdoors the allergies are triggered and symptoms can last for some time.”

Allergies specifically affect women when pregnant as approximately a third of pregnant women experience a worsening of their asthma symptoms. Dubravec notes that nasal allergies increase the risk for developing asthma and that with early treatment, it help reduce the risk. If a woman suffers from allergies and asthma and later becomes pregnant, it is important that she be monitored for both.

“It’s important that pregnant women be assessed to see if they may or may not require an increase in asthma treatment,” Dubravec said. “The main goal is to maintain good asthma control, which may require an increase in the asthma medication treatment plan.”

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