Plastic bubble’s not necessarily an answer

Published 7:36 am Saturday, April 22, 2006

By By ANDY HAMILTON / Niles Daily Star
NILES - There is a pattern to allergies.
Typically, a mild year is followed by a bad one. If that pattern remains, 2006 could mean trouble for allergy sufferers.
Different seasons are associated with different allergies depending on what is pollinating, Judge said. Grass pollen typically floats around on summer breezes, while spring is known as the time of year when tree pollen fills the air.
But, depending on what someone has traditionally been sensitive to - trees, weeds, grass or molds - could determine which time of the year is worse. Plus, those allergic to animal danders or dust mites could potentially suffer year-round, Judge said.
A common belief among allergy sufferers is that running the air conditioner instead of leaving windows wide open can cut down on exposure to pollen. But, Judge said there are now studies available that indicate such an adjustment does not make a significant difference in preventing allergies.
Developing allergies can occur at just about any time. Judge said those people generally at a higher risk have parents that experience allergic reactions.
Moving to a new area can also trigger allergic reactions to unfamiliar pollens. But, Judge said newcomers to a region typically do not see symptoms until a year after arriving.
During the first year, exposure to pollens sensitizes a person's body, which means they may not experience much in the way of symptoms. The following year is usually when the reactions occur because the immune system is not familiar with the pollens.
Michigan may not be the best place to relocate to in order to avoid a vicious allergy season. Judge said Michigan is one of the hardest hit regions, right behind Florida and North Carolina, where the pollen is so thick in the spring it builds on the cars and houses.
Recent research by the Allergy and Asthma Foundation of America supports Judge's claim. According to the AAFA, the worst allergies are typically found in cities below the Mason-Dixon line. But, northern cities such as Detroit, Boston and Hartford, Conn. have all made the AAFA's 2006 list of spring allergy capitals.
The AAFA based the study on the area's pollen counts, the number of board-certified allergists in the region and the amount of medication used per capita.
The pharmacy manager at Martin's Supermarket Pharmacy Amie Boulanger said it does not take a whole lot to know when an allergy season is starting to kick in.
The types of medications being scanned at check-out are another hint, Boulanger said. Pseudoephedrine and antihistamines are common medicines for people suffering from allergies.
Both Boulanger and Judge said there are not any new treatments for battling allergies, but some changes have been made to the medications currently available.
Clarinex, for example, is a non-drowsy form of Claritin, which Boulanger said has traditionally been an antihistamine with sedating side-effects. Loratadine, at one time available only through prescription, is also now a common antihistamine.
Other changes include removing pseudoephedrine from the aisles and placing it in the hands of the pharmacist. The drug has recently been made less available because of its increased use to produce methamphetamines. Boulanger said a person must now present a photo I.D. to the pharmacist to purchase pseudoephedrine.
Medication, it seems, is the best and only way to fight seasonal attacks. And besides, it's better than spending months at a time inside a plastic bubble.