Sneezing? Itchy, watery eyes? It's allergy season

HealthMedicineNewport News (Newport News, Virginia)

Pollen is in the air, which means allergy season is upon us.

On Wednesday, the Daily Press hosted a Web chat with Dr. Maripaz Morales, a Children's Hospital of The King's Daughters allergist who also works at an Oyster Point office, and Dr. Ann Zilliox, of Allergy and Asthma of Oyster Point in Newport News and Williamsburg.

Here are some of the highlights.

Q. During allergy season, my 6-year-old daughter develops dark circles underneath her eyes. It almost looks like she has a black eye. What can I do to make this go away?

A. This could be a sign of nasal congestion. …Antihistamines or nasal steroids could help the dark circles eventually.

Q. Shouldn't steroid use be limited? Is it OK to use them every year for seasonal allergies?

A. Nasal steroids are generally safe for chronic use. The only usual side effect is nose bleeds.

Q. When is allergy season around here?

A. Tree pollen runs March through mid-May and grass April through June.

Q. Do people grow out of allergies? Can they develop later in life?

A. Fully 80 percent of allergic individuals first developed allergy symptoms before 20 years old. But that still leaves a lot of adults to develop symptoms later in life. If the allergen is completely avoided, symptoms can improve through time.

Q. Are you seeing an increase in the number of people with allergies?

A. Allergies are on the rise, whether it's nasal/respiratory or food or skin allergy issues.

Q. Are allergies more prevalent here than in other places?

A. Allergies are everywhere but probably worse in areas with high pollen like ours. House dust mite thrives in areas with low altitude and high humidity. That's us!

Q. Can you avoid getting allergies?

A. Individuals are genetically predisposed to become allergic. Everything we try to do to avoid developing them hasn't seemed to work too well. For example, we used to be sure that avoiding animals was the way to avoid becoming allergic to them. Now that seems much less certain.

Q. Do Neti pots (ceramic pots used for nasal irrigation) help?

A. Neti pots used with saline are very helpful with thick nasal drainage and sometimes with stuffy nose too. Getting people to try a Neti pot is the hard part!

Q. I don't necessarily have a sore throat but I'm always clearing my throat and my voice tends to crack. Is that due to some type of allergy?

A. Those symptoms may be due to post-nasal drainage or, in adults, could be a sign of refluxing stomach acid.

Q. Can allergies cause a sinus infection needing antibiotics?

A. Allergies can cause obstructive-type issues that cause sinusitis or even ear problems.

Want to read the rest of the transcript, or transcripts of other health Web chats? Click here.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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