With spring in full bloom, here’s what families should know about this year’s OC allergy season.
Watery eyes, itchy skin, sniffly nose … sounds like allergy season is here.
But in a time when a scratchy throat and the sniffles can mean something more than hay fever, we thought it best to seek out the advice of a medical professional to help us figure out what we can expect locally this allergy season as well as learn the common symptoms.
“There’s no cure for allergies, but symptoms can be managed,” said Dr. Cory Spurlock, chief medical officer at Exer Urgent Care — Emergency Medicine in Newport Beach. “The best way to cope with them is to avoid the allergens, which is why parents should talk to their kids often about the allergy itself and the reactions they can have if they come in contact.”
Spurlock answered some of our questions regarding allergies, prevention and more.
Parenting OC: What kind of allergy season can we expect in Orange County this spring?
Cory Spurlock: I anticipate that our allergy season in Orange County will be similar to previous seasons. Typically, allergy seasons are predicated by warming temperatures causing plants and trees to bloom, releasing tiny pollen particles into the air. Although global warming may affect this, I don’t anticipate that to change much this year. We should anticipate similar allergies as years past.
POC: With COVID an ongoing issue and variants springing up, as well as other viruses like the common cold, how can we tell them apart from seasonal allergies?
CS: Allergy symptoms typically involve itchy, red and watery eyes, scratchy throat, runny or stuffy nose and sneezing. While those symptoms may resemble the most recent Omicron variant, COVID-19 and common colds will typically also present with a fever, body aches, more severe sore throat and cough. Patients with allergies do not develop a fever. Past history is also important to note. Often people with allergies have a history of seasonal allergies. Allergy symptoms also tend to be more long-lasting than viral symptoms.
POC: What are some ways families can reduce potential for allergy flare-ups this spring?
CS: To limit allergy flare-ups this spring, families should stay indoors as much as possible when pollen counts are high: Peak pollen times are between 5 to 10 a.m., and at dusk, as well as on windy days. Keep all windows in the house closed. Wear sunglasses at all times when you’re outside in the sun. Make sure to remove shoes after going outside because pollen can be transferred to floors, especially to carpets. Shower and put on fresh clothes after spending time outdoors. And lastly, use a HEPA filter for AC units and vacuums.
POC: Are there any natural/home remedies or preventive measures for seasonal allergies that work?
CS: Natural remedies include saline nasal rinse, air filters, vitamin C, butterbur, quercetin, spirulina, peppermint and eucalyptus oil, locally sourced honey and probiotics. Other remedies to consider are over-the-counter antihistamines such as Benadryl, Claritin, Zyrtec and Allegra.
POC: What do you want all families to know about seasonal allergies?
CS: Spring is an exciting time for children. After a winter season, sunny days and warm weather mean running around outdoors with friends. Remember that natural sunlight and outdoor play are essential for kids, just be cautious when pollen counts are high if your child is susceptible.
POC: How should parents prepare for seasonal allergies for their kids?
CS: It is important for parents to be proactive and do all they can to prevent flare-ups of allergies. Have some of the natural remedies available and ready, in addition to age-appropriate medications such as Benadryl. You can also be prepared by checking the pollen count with the weather forecast and scheduling outdoor playdates on lower-pollen days. Vacuum regularly and keep doors and windows closed during high-pollen seasons. You may even consider adding a high-quality HEPA filter to your home system or a dehumidifier in your child’s bedroom.
By Jessica Peralta