How to Deal with Pollen Allergies

In this video, Dr Rabinowitz discusses the steps you can take to handle pollen allergies. He suggests:

1) Get allergy tested — find out if you are actually allergic to pollen, especially before using certain medications which are largely ineffective on non-allergic individuals.

2) OTC medications — find out what are the most effective medications for pollen allergies, and what are the best combinations of medications

3) Allergy Shots — Do you really need them?

4) How long you can expect pollen allergies to last

Watch this video for an engaging discussion on pollen allergies by one of Atlanta’s leading allergy specialists!

Dr Paul S Rabinowitz
Allergy & Asthma Consultants, PCs
5555 Peachtree-Dunwoody Rd NE
Suite 325
Atlanta, GA 30342

Following is a complete transcript of the video:

How to Deal with Pollen Allergies – Dr Paul S. Rabinowitz [07:30]

Hi, this is Dr. Paul Rabinowitz of Allergy and Asthma Consultants here in Atlanta. As you all know it is pollen season. And as I am doing this talk today, it is Monday. We just came from a long weekend of lots of pollen exposure, I myself was outside doing yard work and it’s miserable out there. Even if you’re not allergic to the spring pollen, just the irritation of the pollen dust can affect your eyes and your nose, mouth and even in your lungs causing your cough.

So today I want to talk to you about what you can do about this and how long is the problem going to last. So let’s first start with what you can do about this. Now, my recommendation is you actually find out if you are allergic to the pollen. And that’s what I tell patients when they come in. So somebody comes in the door and they’re complaining about their eyes are irritated and they’ve got all this nasal drainage and they’re coughing and I said before we discuss the allergy shots and what remedies, we first need to see if you’re actually allergic because it turns out that only two thirds of the patients are actually allergic. One third, when you skin test them, are not allergic and they just have an irritation from the pollen. And this is important because some of the medicines will not work as well if you are not allergic. An example of that would be antihistamines. Antihistamines work well if you have allergic rhinitis, where you actually do have the pollen allergy. They don’t work well if you have non-allergic allergy or non-allergy where the skin tests are negative.

So, one, if it’s possible, you should come in and see me or your allergist and get tested and see what the actual problem is and what you need to avoid. And one of the other reasons for that is the pollen season can last three or four months. We start in March going through April with the tree pollen and then in April, May and early June is the grass pollen season. So it would be nice to know what you are allergic to and how and then we’ll tell you how long that’s going to last. So, again, you can come in, you get allergy tested to see what the situation is.

Now, the next question is, okay as far as over-the-counter medications, what do you take? And when you go to the drugstore, and I was just at Walmart yesterday getting my son’s tire changed. While I had time, I went over to the pharmacy area and I was amazed by how many medicines are available that are over-the-counter now that you can choose from. You’ve got non-sedating antihistamines like Claritin, Allegra and Zyrtec. You’ve got sedating anti-histamines like Benadryl. You’ve got different types of eye drops. You’ve got different steroid nose sprays. This can be overwhelming as far as which products to use. But in general, the best product is a steroid nose spray. We’re going to look at one product that works best for nasal allergy symptoms, it’s the steroid nose spray. Even better than that on a prescription basis, is a combination of an antihistamine and steroid nose spray. And there’s a product that’s available now that’s only prescription at this point that actually in studies works fifty percent better than the steroid nose spray. So, if you’ve been having really bad symptoms, you need the combination product.

We also got the eye drops. And the ones that work the best are the ones that have ketotifen in them. The original one was Zaditor eye drops and this is a twice-a-day eye drop that is pretty effective that you can buy this as over-the-counter medication. So if you are going to maximize therapy from the drugstore, you would be on a non-sedating antihistamine like, let’s say, Allegra 180 milligrams once a day; you would be using a long-acting allergy eye drop like Zaditor or the generic version Ketotifen, one or two drops twice a day; and you would be on a steroid nose spray. And the list gets longer and I would say going based on which one is the cheapest or which one is on sale, you’ve got Flonase, Nasacort AQ, Rhinocort is now over-the-counter and Nasonex is soon to be there as well. So a combination of all these products would be very effective in bringing the symptoms under control.

If these over-the-counter medicines don’t work, then it’s important to come in and see me so I can allergy test you and one, determine what you’re allergic to and whether it’s severe enough that you might need to be on allergy shots. The allergy shots is a whole separate subject of – and again, just because you come to the allergy office doesn’t mean you need allergy shots. As what I tell patients is, we’re allergy testing you to see what you are allergic to and how bad the allergies are. You only need allergy shots if the over-the-counter medication or the prescription medicines that I prescribed are not working or they’ve got side effects that you don’t like, if you use nose sprays they dry out your nose and they cause nose bleeds. Well, guess what, you can’t use nose sprays. If the antihistamine are supposed to be non-sedating but they do make you drowsy, then you can’t use these antihistamines. There are some patients where the only thing that works are the allergy shots. So patients come in, allergy test them, see what they’re allergic to, medicines aren’t working then we got to put them on allergy shots and go through the process of starting with a very diluted dose and building up to a concentrated dose.

Now, one of the things I’ve noticed about allergy shots is that not every allergist office or non-allergist does allergy shots is doing it the same. We have patients who come in with serum from another doctor and the serum is very diluted looking. It’s either clear looking like water or a light yellow color. I show the patients when they come in my office and say take a look at our serum, what we call the allergy shots, look how dark amber the pollen is, the tree, grass and weed pollen. If you look at our mixes, it comes out as a dark brown, orangey brown amber color. And I said this means that it’s more concentrated. And for allergy shots to work, as well as they’re possibly going to work, you need to use a concentrated dose of extract when you get to the top dose. If your allergist is only getting you up to a diluted dose, it’s not going to work as well. So unfortunately, you, the consumer will not know this unless an allergist is going to point it out to you like myself that you were getting shortchanged by your doctor.

So again, the message here is we have a season in Atlanta that’s going to last three or four months starting in March going – and the trees again for March and April, the grasses mid-April, all of May, possibly early June; that’s the season. You know, you live here in Atlanta, you’re living with it, you know what you’re dealing with. But I recommend again, come in to see me, we’ll allergy test you, we’ll see exactly what you’ve got and what we can do about it. So thank you and I appreciate you for listening.


You Might Also Enjoy...

Tips for Avoiding Frightful Food Allergies this Halloween

Between dodging vampires in haunted houses and listening to tales of terror, Halloween can be a scary time of make-believe. But for the four percent of children with food allergies, Halloween can be a real, horrifying experience. Holiday treats can ...

Fighting Fall Allergies? Bring it

These five tips will make you the victor in your battle against fall allergies Atlanta, GA | 9/12/2019 – It may seem as though every fall your allergies get the best of you rather than you coming out on top. Sneezing, wheezing, runny noses and itchy ...

Alpha-gal Syndrome or Red Meat Allergy

Alpha-gal Syndrome or Red Meat Allergy Is caused by a tick bite that leads to the production of antibodies against carbohydrate galactose-alpha-1,3-galactose that is in the saliva of the tick. This same carbohydrate is present in red meat. If you have ...