Pollen Plague: What is Your Best Defense?

Offense (Global warming) vs. Defense (Allergy drops)

helmet-in-grass

The recent cover of USA Today’s weekend edition on May 31st, 2013 read:

Pollen plague: How Climate change is Affecting Every Breath You Take.

The reporter chose to focus on Chicago as the location where Dr. Joseph Leija has been recording pollen counts for 24 years on the roof of Gottlieb Memorial Hospital. Dr. Leija and other pollen counting stations are reporting rises in the pollen counts over the past decade. The reason seems to be fairly clear: global warming has been causing increasing carbon dioxide in the air, which influences the pollen released by nature. Dr. Leonard Bielory, a well-known allergist at Rutgers University’s Center for Environmental Prediction, noted that the pollen count has doubled in the past five years, with the highest levels reported this year.

Quest Diagnostics which does allergy blood tests reported a 15% increase in ragweed sensitivity from 2005 to 2009. Allergies don’t just cause hay fever, they can also trigger asthma, and federal data reports a 17% increase in asthma from 2001 to mid-2012.

In my book, Dr. Dean Mitchell’s Allergy and Asthma Solution, I discuss Global warming and how it is going to be the biggest challenge to allergy and asthma sufferers in the coming years.

If Global warming is on the offense to make allergies worse, what is your best defense?

pollen-in-the-air

Get Tested.

My answer is a comprehensive preventive medical approach. If you suffer significantly from allergies it’s important to get tested. You and your doctor will have a better chance of protecting you if your allergens are known, and a plan is in place ahead of time to minimize the symptoms.

Better Timing

For example, if you suffer from the late summer ragweed pollen, you should have a plan in place no later than mid-July. I usually recommend the safe and effective over-the-counter nasal spray Nasalcrom as the first step. Nasalcrom is based on an Egyptian herb khallin, but has shown to be effective as a preventive treatment, but not when symptoms are full-blown.

Prescription allergy eye drops (not the over-the-counter Visine) is the way to prevent severe eye irritation. Again, this can be started a few weeks before the pollen counts are sky high.

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Long-Term Solution

If you want to permanently reverse your air borne allergies then you may want to ask your doctor about sublingual allergy immunotherapy, also called Allergy Drops. Allergy drops are very popular in Europe and, in the past few years, are getting a lot of press, as numerous studies have shown their effectiveness. Over the past 15 years, I’ve enjoyed helping my patients–children and adults–get protection against their allergies this way. And all of my patients are happy to avoid injections and the convenience of being able to treat themselves in their own home, as opposed to having to get to the doctor’s office weekly.

We all know that in sports a great Defense can be the key to stopping a good Offense. I think the same is true in medical treatment for allergies: Allergy Drops can be the best D-E-F-E-N-S-E against Global Warming and the Pollen Plague.

Dr. Dean Mitchell
Mitchell Medical Group, NYC & Long Island

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