Understanding Spring Seasonal Allergies, prevention, treatments

It's allergy season, so if it seems like everyone and their mom are getting sick, you know why.  

During the Spring time in Houston, certain plants bloom, and with many people moving to the city, it's almost unavoidable to get sick. 

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But before you freak out, allergy experts, like CVS MinuteClinic practitioner Erin Vierus, are stressing the importance of recognizing the signs, treating them adequately, and doing what you can to prevent them. 

"We've had a particularly bad sick season with so many different viruses circulating right now," Vierus explained. "So one of the main things I always talk to my patients about is, ‘do you have a fever?’ Right off the bat, if you feel like you're getting those chills and body aches right away, typically, that's not allergies." 

"Allergies usually come quickly or a little bit more gradually, but it's usually more of an itchy kind of watery experience versus like a painful sore throat and painful sinus pressure," she added. 

Compared to most cities, Houston's allergy season is pretty severe, Vierus noted. 

"In Houston, we have plants that bloom year-round," she said. "So this year, particularly right now we have our ragweed, oak, Mulberry, those kinds of things." 

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For many of the newer Houston residents, and therefore, not used to the plant and its effects, a lot of this may come as a surprise. However, Vierus explains we can keep track of what is blooming through weather apps like the ones FOX 26 has and keep track.

Those with severe allergies though can definitely pick up some over-the-counter medications at CVS or schedule an appointment or even walk right in for a consultation. 

"If you're not really sure why you're having those reactions, you can come in and get a simple blood test, and we can let you see what exactly is your trigger, so you'll know when you know, certain times of the year it's going to flare," Vierus explained. "And so you can start out with just a symbol over the counter and an antihistamine...There's decongestants that can help temporarily to kind of get rid of that pressure. And then we also have some nasal steroids… And if you need a little bit more help from that, we're always here to help you if you want to look in the allergy aisle and ask them some questions."

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If you're one of those folks that like to tough out their allergies, you might want to reconsider, as Vierus explained, it could only make things worse. Not just for you, but others around you.

"The best way is to start before you have your allergies," she said. "So prevention is always best starting those medicines two or three weeks before you know those triggers. If you let them go unchecked, they can lead to other complications like sinus infections, ear infections, and those who have asthma, they can get triggered from your allergy." 

"So you could send to have some harder time breathing and coughing and have some respiratory distress, unfortunately," Vierus continued. "So very important to prevent infection and further complications."

Those with severe allergies may be eligible for shots or surgery, but should only be considered after consulting your doctor. 

"I guess the one downside would be they are usually weekly, so you do have to go in pretty often to see your allergist or your EMT for those, but they are fairly effective because they're tailored specifically to you," Vierus said. "There's another option would be the Sinuplasty for people that have had chronic sinusitis; they get that sinus infection from allergies." 


"That would be a little bit more of a work-up you need to see an ENT and surgeon for that and have a look at your sinuses and see if you're a candidate for that because unfortunately, not everyone is."