By Dr. Dave Hnida


DENVER (CBS4) – Seems like we’ve gone overnight from the “bomb cyclone” to the “pollen cyclone,” with lots of us suddenly finding we are suffering from clogged heads, runny noses, sneezing, and wheezing. To blame, pollen counts from trees that are in the “HIGH” range all along Colorado’s Front Range. The pollen come from a nice mix of blooming elms, cottonwoods, maples, ash, and cedar trees … take your pick.

(credit: CBS)

And it’s not only Colorado that’s in the bullseye for heavy spring allergies, most of the U.S. as well as Europe is feeling the pain of a heavy dusting of microscopic misery. To make matters worse is the effect of rising global temperatures, causing earlier and heavier budding of trees.

Also consider these two sorry points:

You can develop allergies at any age, even if you’ve never had them before.

And more people are suffering from allergies than ever before, we don’t know why.

So what can you do if you’re an unlucky pollen lotto winner and your eyes are trying to itch their way out of their sockets?

Artificial tears can help soothe and lubricate your eyes by washing out pollen.

Wearing sunglasses while outside can help as well.

Plus, there are several good OTC allergy eye drops that can even be used in kids (obviously follow directions and check with your doctor).

One caution, though. Avoid decongestant “get the red out” drops on an ongoing basis — they can be a little rough on the eyeballs

What if you’re totally clogged or trying to set a record for consecutive violent sneezes?

Nasal saline to wash out pollen. No chemicals in these, and they can be used multiple times a day.

Nasal steroids such as Flonase or Nasacort can soothe inflamed, swollen passageways.

Antihistamines such as Zyrtec, Claritin, or Allegra can also help. Is one better than another? Not necessarily but if you find one stops working well after a few weeks, think about switching to a different product. These are the “non-sedating ones,” while products like Benadryl or Chlor-Trimetron can make you drowsy and may be a better choice at night.

Some general tips:

Quick shower and hair rinse before bed, so you’re not rolling around a pillow of pollen all night.

Outdoor pets should be kept out of the bedroom — and off the beds. The same actually goes for the clothes you wore outside.

If you know you have allergies, start your medications now. Antihistamines and steroids work better if they are on board before you are swarmed by pollen. And if nothing really seems to be doing the job, see your doctor. Some allergy testing and treatment may be the order of the day.

Good luck, and happy pollen counts. Hopefully the tree pollen will ease sooner than later — just in time for grass pollen to unleash its wrath.

Pollen counts can be like a roller coaster, and vary day-to-day, and place to place.

LINKS: For the latest pollen counts go to coloradoallergy.com | nationaljewish.org

Dr. Dave Hnida

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