By Jordan Walden | LSU Student
With spring air comes the allergens.
Timothy Honigman, chief of staff at LSU's Student Health Center, notes the allergy season started abnormally early this year.
"We have seen many more cases of allergies this year, starting in late January and early February. This is odd, because it is usually too cold for plants to bloom in the winter."
Honigman says oak tree pollen currently is the most prevalent allergen. Oak trees normally begin to pollinate in mid-March but began blooming in late January this year.
"As the weather warms, more plants will begin to bloom, and ligustrum pollen will become more of a problem."
For mild or moderate allergy symptoms, allergy sufferers can take advantage of many over-the-counter drugs, previously only available with a prescription. Honigman suggests Zyrtec to his patients. For those with more severe allergy symptoms, Honigman advises seeing an allergist.
Honigman also recommends keeping the home free of allergens by changing the air filter and vacuuming to eradicate air of dust and dust mites. Allergy sufferers also should avoid spending time outdoors when there is a high pollen count. To find out the daily pollen count in one's area, visit pollen.com for an allergy forecast.
Symptoms of an allergy attack include sneezing, itchy and watery eyes, and a runny nose. Honigman cautions patients not to dismiss something more serious as an allergy attack.
"Oftentimes, allergy sufferers will confuse an allergy attack with an infection. The difference is an infection causes fever and discolored mucus, and allergens do not."
The LSU Health Sciences Center in New Orleans researches allergies and notes that a study in 2010 showed Vitamin D an effective agent in preventing an allergy.
Animals also suffer from allergies. Dogs and cats often catch allergies from fleas, foods and airborne allergens such as pollen and dust.
But allergic reactions in pets are quite different, says Joseph Taboada, professor of Veterinary Medicine, pointing out that humans react with sinus and nasal symptoms, whereas dogs and cats react by itching.
Taboada suggests pet owners look for pets licking or chewing on themselves or rubbing against furniture to determine if they have allergies. "It is important to treat allergies soon, because animals scratching and rubbing themselves can lead to skin infections."