Understanding the Impact of Allergies on Our Health
Spring has arrived, and while it’s a beautiful time of year, it also marks the beginning of spring allergies. In Wichita, we have the unfortunate distinction of being ranked the worst city in the nation for seasonal allergies. Allergies can affect every part of us – from physical symptoms to mental strain – and even our vision. We spoke with healthcare professionals from across Hunter Health to better understand the impact of allergies and how to survive the season.
- Callie Wentling, Director of Clinical Quality & Engagement, emphasizes the importance of seeking medical attention for persistent allergy symptoms. “Allergies can have a significant impact on a person’s daily life, interfering with work, school, and other activities. It’s important for people to seek medical attention if their symptoms become unmanageable or if they’re unsure if they’re dealing with allergies or a more serious condition.”
- Dr. Kaitlin Boger, Director of Integrated Care, reminds us that allergies can also cause stress. “During the Spring, allergies can be the last thing someone wants to deal with, which can be stress-inducing. Make sure you are prioritizing yourself and your care, and make sure you are getting enough sleep.”
- Our vision can also be affected, as Dr. Alan Wiggins, Optometrist, explains: “Allergies can cause itchy, watery eyes, making it difficult to focus on daily tasks. Allergy issues that cause a lot of rubbing can sometimes cause permanent damage to the eye. The good news is treatment can be as easy as one eye drop in each eye per day.”
- Even oral health can be impacted by allergies, according to Dr. Valerie Hunter, Dental Director. “People may not realize that allergies can have an impact on oral health. Nasal congestion can lead to dry mouth due to antihistamine use and a high likelihood of mouth breathing. Dry mouth can increase the risk of tooth decay and gum disease. It’s important to stay hydrated, maintain good oral hygiene and nutritional habits, and visit your dentist routinely to prevent these issues.”
Comprehensive Care for your Allergies
As spring allergies progress, it’s essential to keep in mind how allergies can impact our health and daily lives. By working together across all departments at Hunter Health, we can provide comprehensive care and support to our patients through this challenging season.
Dr. Caitlin Chiles, Director of Primary Care, offers some valuable tips for surviving spring allergies. “The first thing I’d recommend for dealing with spring allergies is just to avoid them as much as possible. Try to avoid being outside when pollen counts are high. There are several over-the-counter medications that you can try on your own. Ultimately, if you’re still struggling with allergies, you can see your physician to get evaluated.”
Dr. Chiles also notes the importance of differentiating between allergies and COVID-19. “COVID is still out there, and I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve heard patients tell me, ‘Oh, I think it’s just allergies,’ when it turns out they have COVID. It’s worth getting tested, especially if you have other symptoms.”
TL;DR – How to Thrive During Allergy Season
To summarize, surviving spring allergies requires a multi-faceted approach:
- Seek medical attention if symptoms become unmanageable or you’re unsure of their cause.
- Prioritize self-care, including getting enough sleep and managing stress.
- Protect your vision by using eye drops if necessary and avoid rubbing your eyes.
- Maintain good oral hygiene, stay hydrated, and visit your dentist regularly.
- Minimize exposure to allergens by staying indoors when pollen counts are high and using over-the-counter medications as needed.
- Consult your physician if you continue to struggle with spring allergies despite taking precautions.
- Get tested for COVID-19 if you have symptoms that could be mistaken for allergies.
By following these tips and working closely with your healthcare providers at Hunter Health, you can thrive through spring allergies and enjoy the beauty of spring without letting allergies hold you back. If you’d like to schedule an appointment, give us a call at 316-262-2415.