Because of Michigan’s climate, seasonal allergies are very common in the spring and fall, and this year is no exception.
“It is very bad right now,” said Timothy Linehan, an allergist with Northern Michigan Allergy and Asthma Center in Petoskey. “In Northern Michigan we have short, intense seasons so it always seems bad.”
Because of those short intense seasons, some suffer from seasonal allergies almost year round.
Currently, trees are pollinating and causing many to suffer. In the summer, the main allergen is grass, followed by weeds in the fall. Mold spores, another common allergen, are present from spring to fall.
“We have studies that show that allergies are on the rise and we’re certain that allergy problems are skyrocketing,” Linehan said. “There are certainly people suffering here in Northern Michigan.”
While many symptoms of seasonal allergies mimic those of colds and other viruses, there are some differences.
Another difference between allergies and the common cold or infection is the length of the symptoms. A cold is generally gone within two weeks, so if symptoms last longer, an allergen is usually the culprit.
“Allergies can be genetic,” Linehan explained. “If both parents suffer from allergies, their child has a 70 percent likelihood of being affected. If one parent has allergies, it is a 30 percent chance.”
Allergies can also occur at any age or at any time. Linehan noted that people can experience allergy problems for the first time well into their adult years.
If you do suffer from seasonal allergies, there are options when it comes to treatment and relief.
Linehan recommends over-the-counter medications such as Zyrtec and Claritin for those who suffer for a few weeks out of the year. Nasal steroids, which are available with a prescription, are also recommended.
Allergy shots are also an option, although they are not for everyone. Those seeking relief with shots need to have shots each week for 8 months, then after that, once a month for maintenance. However, those who stick with an allergy shot program generally have an 80 percent reduction in the need for allergy medications.
“If you suffer from allergies for just part of the season and your threshold for symptoms is low, it really behooves you to seek treatment,” Linehan said. “If quality of life is an issue, and if you don’t want to go through life suffering with the watery eyes and runny nose, an allergist can help improve your quality of life.”
Linehan begins seeing patients at his new office, today, Wednesday, at 405 North Division Road in Petoskey.
For more information, call the Northern Michigan Allergy and Asthma Center at (231) 487-6575.
You should see an allergist if you:
— Experience allergy related symptoms that last longer than two weeks
— Have six or more sinus infections a year
— Suffer from asthma
— Have a child who suffers from chronic ear infections, asthma or eczema.