You didn’t need the weather report to know that the pollen levels are really high in town today. You also know that, given the activity level of the average week in Verona, you won’t be able to stay home until the pollen dies down.
“How are you going to tell someone who loves Verona Park not to go to Verona Park?”, says Dr. Arthur Fost. “How are you going to tell a Little Leaguer not to Little League?”
Dr. Fost, who operates out of a modest office almost across the street from Everett Field, is one of the leading allergy specialists in New Jersey. He is a regular fixture on New Jersey Monthly‘s annual list of the state’s top doctors, and he and his son David have enough of a sense of humor that they chose the Web address sneezedoctors.com for their practice, more formally known as Allergy Consultants.
He is also my family’s allergy doctor, ever since a wasp sting landed my younger son in the emergency room. So after the March rain storms were followed by a storm of pollen, I asked Dr. Fost for some tips to get through the next few weeks.
Begin by acknowledging that allergies cause very real suffering–and that you’re not the only sufferer. According to Dr. Fost, at least 25% of the population have allergies, and allergies can make it difficult to get through the day and work and in school. Then remember that allergies are treatable.
“The best treatment is avoidance, but with allergies, that is hard,” Dr. Fost concedes. An air conditioner can filter out pollen and cold compresses can soothe allergy-inflamed eyes. The next step is over-the-counter remedies, such as ketotifen for eyes, and cetirizine and loratadine for everything else. (You probably know the latter two better as Zyrtex and Claritin.) When these treatments fail to do the trick, it’s time to see a doctor.
Dr. Fost notes that the flooding caused by the heavy March rains also raises the chances of mold allergies this spring. If your basement took on water, replace any carpet and take steps to keep the mold at bay.
And finally, relax: By mid-May, this misery will probably be history. Says Dr. Fost, “allergy season always passes.”
(Home page photo courtesy See-Ming Lee, via Flickr)