UTAH COUNTY -- Ripping your eyes out, tearing out your hair and drilling out your ears are all impractical but tempting solutions for those trying to alleviate symptoms of hay fever. Greater than usual pollen counts this season have driven those with hay fever to even more desperate measures -- seeking help from a doctor.
"I certainly am seeing an upswing in hay fever patients," said Dr. Glen Porter. "They've had it for years, and finally this year they've said 'That's it, I'm going to go see an allergist.' "
Hay fever, also called rhinitis or pollinosis, is a condition where the human body overreacts to pollen introduced into its upper respiratory tract and the eyes, causing sneezing and itchiness.
The physician for Intermountain Medical Group's Utah Valley Ear, Nose, Throat and Allergy Clinic in Pleasant Grove, Porter said the 2011 hay fever season has been more severe for many allergy sufferers because of the wet spring producing more grasses and weeds. The wet spring translated into good news for those with tree pollen allergies, with the frequent rains keeping tree pollen out of the air.
"It may have been an easier spring for those with tree pollen allergies," he said. The same conditions making better conditions for those with tree pollen allergies has created havoc for those with grass and weed pollen sensitivity in the summer and fall.
"Although it may have occurred to you, Roundup on your neighbor's lawn is not a possibility," Porter said.
He said one of the greatest preventives for allergies is restricting exposure in your home. Central air conditioning is a good way to keep pollen out of your house and out of your system, he said. Pollen isn't the only irritant that has bothered those with seasonal allergies this year.
"We've seen some different things," Porter said. "For one thing, we have seen a lot more mold because it's been so wet."
Eradicate environs in your house that encourage mold, he said. Inside, potted plant containers breed mold, as do leaves left against the house outside. Get rid of the leaves and frequently clean the containers if you want to keep the plants.
"Leaves are a ripe source for mold," he said. "Try and get that stuff away, especially if you leave your windows open at night."
A sinus rinse is excellent for cleaning out your sinuses.
"That is the best stuff," Porter said. "Go inside and rinse your nose. That stuff is wonderful. It gets the spores out of your nose."
More information on allergy treatment options are available at his clinic's website, www.uvearnosethroat.com.
An allergy specialist, Dr. Duane Harris has been in charge of the official Utah State pollen count station at the Intermountain Allergy and Asthma Draper clinic office for about 15 years. He said because of the wet weather, the station measured a two- or three-week delay in pollen concentrations but, because of the favorable pollen conditions, they have seen a large increase in the number of phone calls to the clinic as well as visits. The unusual conditions don't appear as though they will let up soon.
"We may have a very severe weed pollen season in the fall," Harris said.
Daily readings on the local pollen count can be found at www.intermoutainallergy.com. As of Friday, tree pollen concentrations in the air were low; grasses and weeds were moderate, while mold concentrations are extremely high.
His advice is simple for those being afflicted by pollen allergies -- keep your doors and windows closed.
"Showering and changing your clothes after you have been out in the yard all day makes a lot of sense so you are not sleeping all night in pollen," Harris said. "People with central air conditioning should keep the doors and windows closed during hay fever season to keep the pollen out."