According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology Asthma and allergic diseases, such as allergic rhinitis (hay fever), food allergy, and atopic dermatitis (eczema), are common for all age groups in the United States. Asthma affects more than 17 million adults and more than 7 million children. Allergies are the 6th leading cause of chronic illness in the U.S. with an annual cost in excess of $18 billion. More than 50 million Americans suffer from allergies each year.
Over the last 10 year or more, each year we’ve seen an earlier start to the spring allergy. “Over the last several weeks, people are just starting to feel it,” says, Dr. Marc Tamaroff, an allergist at Dignity Health – St. Mary Medical Center in Long Beach and Associate Clinical Professor of Medicine at UCLA. He says he is starting to see patients with symptoms of tree pollen allergies and early blooming grasses. And while it is far too early to tell just how bad the coming allergy season will be, Dr. Tamaroff says a few days of warm temperatures are “all we need to set off the pollen cascade.”
The important thing is to start treating tree and grass pollen allergies before the season gets really bad. For trees, that is usually sometime in April for the Long Beach area, with grasses hitting their peak in May and into early June.
“This is really the time of year — right now — when you want to get ahead of it,” says Tamaroff. The bottom line is, it is much easier to prep for allergy seasons before the pollen is released in the air, triggering an inflammatory response. Tamaroff says, “once that occurs, it is much harder to reign it back in.”
“Early treatment usually involves antihistamines, maybe nasal steroids or antihistamine eye drops. If they provide no relief, the next step is consultation with an allergist and possible immunotherapy, or desensitizing the body to an allergen.” “Traditionally, it has been done by injection. But now there are two sublingual tablets available that work well for grass allergies. For many, especially children, these tablets provide a welcome alternative to shots. But this form of immunotherapy needs three to four months to take effect, which means the window for protection for this grass allergy season is quickly closing now.”
About Dignity Health - St. Mary Medical Center
Founded in 1923 by the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word, Dignity Health - St. Mary Medical Center is a highly-regarded 389-bed, acute care, nonprofit hospital that offers a full range of inpatient, outpatient and related health and wellness services to the greater Long Beach area. St. Mary is committed to providing a unique balance of high-quality, compassionate care that brings both healing and humanity to the body, mind and spirit of our patients. We deliver care to the sick while providing direct services to the underserved and advocate on their behalf.