NEW ORLEANS - This spring, The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America says New Orleans is one of the worst places to live for people who have allergies.
But since there is no other city that has as much outdoor fun as spring festival season in New Orleans, they offer some expert survival tips.
A trip to Children's Hospital for fifth grader Anthony Smith, 12, is routine since his allergies can trigger an asthma attack and send him to the hospital.
"Your throat gets sore like you held short breathness (SIC) and like it's really bad," said Smith.
Anthony, like many of you, is suffering now as the birds and the bees and the wind spread tree pollen.
If your allergies seem worse than your friends and family who live in other cities, well you're probably right. And that's because we have longer and stronger allergy seasons here in the Crescent City.
"That's because our season is pretty much all year around," explained Dr. Ken Paris, a pediatric allergy and immunology specialist at LSU Health Science's Center who practices at Children's Hospital. "It starts in the spring with the tree pollen season. It extends into summer time with grasses, and then we have a nice weed season in October and November. And because we don't always freeze, we sometimes see grass pollen in the deep south all the way through the wintertime."
Treating the itchy, runny symptoms makes you feel better, but doctors want to get to the root of the problem, the inflammation from the immune system's response.
"And in order to do that, you really have, to use, some of the prescription medications like inhaled corticosteroids or intranasal steroids which decrease the inflammation at the location where the pollen hits your nose," said Dr. Paris.
And he says, unlike indoor triggers such as pet dander and dust mites, you can't avoid outdoor ones. "Any mucus membrane gets exposed to the pollen. I think patients get most of their symptoms when it hits their eyes. But there's some very effective over-the-counter medications for that. One is a medication called Ketotifen, that's an eye drop that you can use twice daily and there's another one called Azelastine," recommended Dr. Paris.
Doctors say you can slowly build up tolerance to your allergy by finding out what your trigger is, then getting regular shots for three to five years. Insurance and Medicaid do cover allergy shots.
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