HELENA — Seasonal allergies have returned for many Montanans.
“Seasonal allergies are where a part of your immune system has decided that things out in the world like tree pollen or grass pollen are dangerous to you, and they try to protect you,” said Dr. Summer Monforte a pediatric allergist-immunologist at Montana Children's Specialists in Kalispell.
Grass pollen is one of the most common allergies and weather plays a role in when a person might experience symptoms. “Allergy season typically lasts until the ground freezes. Weeds are the last to pollinate, and they stop pollinating when the ground is actually frozen,” explained Monforte.
An allergic reaction is when the body’s immune system overreacts to a foreign substance that is usually not harmful. Itchy eyes, runny nose and sneezing are common for pollen allergies.
Monforte says medication can help ease the symptoms, but it is important to understand and use each type of medication appropriately to get the help you need.
Medicines that are antihistamines like Claritin, Zyrtec, and Allegra can be taken as needed.
If you are using medicine like Flonase and Nasacort, which are nasal steroid sprays, those only really work if you are using them regularly; it will take a month for them to get to their peak effectiveness.
If you’re not a fan of using a medication, there are other steps people can take to avoid having an allergic reaction.
“Keep your window close during pollen season; use an air conditioner if it's possible,” said Monforte. “Using in-room air filters can help take the pollen out of the air, but probably one of the best things you can do is after you've been outside, take a shower wash off all the pollen and then you can do things like saline sinus to rinse out the pollen out of your nose. That can help a lot.”
Even if you don’t have seasonal allergies now, that doesn’t mean they can’t develop later in life. “Once you are in your 60s, that is extremely unlikely, but environmental allergies are the gift that keeps on giving,” added Monforte.