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Tree Season

“ T R E E S E A S O N “
Springtime is characterized by the “re-awakening” of plant life and
everyone delights in the beautiful flowers that bloom in waves.
Bare-branched trees suddenly grow leaves and brown fields return
to green grass. All these changes are obvious but behind the scene
lurks the unseen assault to the nose, sinuses and respiratory system
caused by the wind-borne tree pollens.
People with inhalant allergies notice symptoms well before the trees leaf-out and
the flowers bloom. Allergic rhinitis (or “sinus” as many call it ) is caused by
breathing the microscopic tree pollen which flies around in springtime breezes.
This is known as seasonal pollenosis.
Whereas perennial allergy symptoms from dust mites, mold spores, animal danders,
etc. are prevalent all year, the seasonal problems are confined to the specific times
that the culprit plant is pollinating. For trees that begins in late December or early
January in Louisiana and continues until the pecan trees drop their pollen pods
about mid-May. Because we have so many different kinds of trees, allergy patients
may be affected by some but not others, so the time of the spring affecting each
person is different.
How does one know it’s allergy and not an infection? Sinus infections usually cause
fever, discolored secretions and acute symptoms. Antibiotics help with infections
but not with allergies. Infections run shorter courses; allergy symptoms go on
longer, often with fluctuations, but are more persistent with sneezing, post-nasal
drainage, clear or whitish secretions, fatigue, headaches and peri-orbital pressure.
Antihistamines can be helpful. Decongestants help with excessive secretions and
airway blockage. Nasal sprays can provide short-term relief, but caution is in order
as longer use can result in worse symptoms if “rebound” occurs. Sometimes allergy
sufferers get secondary bacterial infections and need treatment for both.
It’s important to properly diagnose the cause of symptoms, then treat appropriately.
When medications do not control allergy symptoms, most allergy patients are
helped significantly by immunotherapy (allergy shots.) This consists of a few simple
skin tests taking about an hour. Then a series of “desensitization” injections is
given over about two weeks. Relief of symptoms is usually evident within those
two weeks and improvement often continues for a year or more.
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