Martha Jefferson Healthwise--April 18th

Dr. Rakes explains what type of pollen is really causing the problems this season. Early spring means that tree pollens are everywhere in the air. Some types of trees start pollinating as early as February, and we are just now getting into the heart of the season for important trees like oak. Later this spring, we will be dealing with grass pollen, or what many people call "hay fever." Mold spores can also be a problem almost any time of the year depending on conditions.

The website is a great resource for Virginia pollen counts.

Dr. Rakes goes on to explain that this year has been hard on allergy sufferers so far. East coast locations like Atlanta have seen record tree pollen counts this year. Unfortunately, we don't have good historical records for the Charlottesville area. Warm winters are thought to cause earlier and longer lasting pollen seasons, and there seems to be a trend to warmer winters over time.

Here is what allergy sufferers can do to find relief: keep windows closed, use air conditioning, limit morning activity, stay indoors, shower or change clothes and use medications.

Another treatment is allergen immunotherapy which can help the immune system to become more resistant to allergies and decrease the need for medications and restrictions in lifestyle. The traditional way to have immunotherapy is by way of allergy shots, which involves a regular schedule of injections for years. At VAPA in Charlottesville, we offer sublingual immunotherapy as a new, shot-free option for some patients. Instead of shots, the patient takes the allergy solution as drops held under the tongue for a short time.

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