CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - You may have felt that explosion in your head that millions of others are feeling right now... Allergies. Pollen counts have exploded nationwide, and North Carolina may be ground zero.
Just a couple of weeks ago, the pollen levels here were the highest they’ve been all season. Anyone who suffers from allergies knows that pollen levels have been ridiculously high this season. The latest readings from the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality show grass pollens at HIGH levels.
People are resorting to extreme measures to combat the pollen. Allergies are killing me this season and it’s all because of a mistake.
Dr. Nikhila Schroeder is a board-certified allergist at Allergenuity Health in Charlotte. She explains, "An allergen is a harmless particle. It's something, it's pollen, it's a food, it's something that our body should be able to handle. A particle from an animal. Our immune system is supposed to recognize that it's harmless and not do anything. But instead, with someone it becomes allergic, our immune system sees that particle, identifies it as harmful instead and then makes a type of protein called an antibody to try to fight it. So it's trying to help, but it's a mistake."
Dr. Schroeder says there are things we can do that may help hold off allergies.
“One of the best things that a person can do from a preventative standpoint, is to try to minimize exposures to allergens. But we also want to rinse off what I call our mucus membranes. And those are the areas we all forget about," Dr. Schroeder says. So that would be the inside of your nose or your eyes.”
Allergies can’t be cured but symptoms can be treated and controlled. Go to any drug store and you’ll find all sorts of treatments. But for many people, over the counter treatments aren’t enough to bring relief. That’s when it may be time to see a doctor.
While injections are a commonly used treatment for allergies, Dr. Schroeder’s clinic offers a treatment that’s widely used in Europe, but is just now beginning to catch on in the U.S. The treatment involves putting allergen drops under the tongue - it is called sublingual immunotherapy.
No shots are involved. Dr. Schroeder says, “So that is a way to deliver the antigen or the allergens to the system in a targeted way in a spot in the body that is designed to promote tolerance. Because it’s a gentler route to use than an injection for sure. Not many people I know like shots. And certainly not children and many adults also don’t like injections. And so this route has been in existence for immunotherapy for just as long as allergy shots. It’s been done a lot more prevalent in Europe than in the United States, but it has been found to be just as effective.”
So, there are definitely options out there for you if you need allergy treatments by a doctor. Do your research and see what works best for you. By the way, there’s really no rhyme or reason why some people suffer from allergies and others don’t. Genetics may play a role but there are environmental factors as well as others. It’s very complex. And just because you may not suffer from allergies now doesn’t mean you won’t at some other time.