Special to Iredell Free News

Springtime brings warm, sunny weather, beautiful flowers and, unfortunately, seasonal allergies. If you experience red, itchy eyes, a runny nose, and constant sneezing around this time – you understand the frustration of seasonal allergies.

As we approach the heart of allergy season, it is important to know the symptoms of seasonal allergies, what triggers them, and when to seek medical help.

Dr. Howard Suls

“The typical symptoms [of seasonal allergies] are a watery or thick runny nose, itchy or watery eyes, a stuffy nose, sneezing, and red or swollen eyes,” said Howard Suls, a physician at Iredell Family Medicine in Mooresville.

The most common trigger of seasonal allergies in the Southeast is the dreaded, yellow powdery substance that seems to cover everything in sight during spring — pollen.

According to Suls, many people know pollen allergies as “hay fever.” While grassses are the most common cause of hay fever, ragweed and certain species of trees, like birch, cedar, and oak, also produce high counts of pollen.

How do you limit your exposure to seasonal allergies?

• Limit outdoor activities when pollen counts are high.
• Keep windows closed and use a central air conditioning unit with a certified asthma and allergy friendly filter.
• Start taking allergy medicine before allergy season starts.
• Wash your hair daily before going to bed.
• Wash sheets and bedding once a week.
• Wear sunglasses and a hat to keep pollen out of eyes and hair.
• Limit close contact with outdoor pets.
• Wash clothes worn during outdoor activities.
• Dry your clothes in a dryer, not an outdoor clothesline.
• Try a nasal rinse with either saline or distilled water.
• Stop smoking. Smoking can paralyze nasal hairs that filter out pollen particles.

If you are still feeling the effects of seasonal allergies after trying the above suggestions, you should contact your medical provider. Suls advises that you should also visit your doctor if your nasal drainage turns yellow, green, or bloody, as this could be a sign of a sinus infection, not allergies.

Most importantly, make sure to address your allergies and take the above steps to limit your exposure so you can still enjoy the warm weather springtime brings.

Dr. Suls is currently accepting new patients. To schedule an appointment, call Iredell Family Medicine at 704-360-5190.

About Iredell Health System

Iredell Health System includes Iredell Memorial Hospital; Iredell Home Health; Iredell Wound Care & Hyperbaric Center; Community and Corporate Wellness; Occupational Medicine; the Iredell Physician Network and more. Iredell Memorial Hospital is the largest and only nonprofit hospital in Iredell County. The comprehensive healthcare facility has 247 beds; more than 1,700 employees; and has 260 physicians representing various specialties. Centers of excellence include Women’s and Children’s; Cardiovascular; Cancer; Surgical Services and Wellness & Prevention. The mission of Iredell Health System is to inspire wellbeing. For a comprehensive list of services and programs, visit www.iredellhealth.org.