HW: Cooler weather about all that brings relief to some allergy sufferers
Kathy Malvern loves sitting on her back patio and enjoying unobstructed views of Colorado National Monument. Too bad she rarely gets to be outside.
Malvern is allergic to “just about everything outside in Grand Junction.”
Every individual allergic to something reacts in different ways, said allergist Dr. William Scott with Allergy and Asthma Clinic of Western Colorado, 1120 Wellington Ave.
Itchy, watery eyes and runny nose are only part of the problem for Malvern. Her allergic reactions become respiratory, creating potentially dangerous breathing issues.
For those suffering from fall allergies to things such as sagebrush, Kochia weed and other grasses, the good news is the season is nearly over as temperatures continue to drop, Scott said.
The bad news is allergies typically return annually, and spring is the busiest time of the year at Scott’s office.
Scott made several suggestions for those fighting allergies in the Grand Valley.
First, try over-the-counter medications to clear up symptoms. Claritin and Zyrtec are two that often work, Scott said. Claritin is weaker than Zyrtec, he added.
Claritin and Zyrtec used to be available by prescription only, but after the drug makers lost their patent several years ago, generic brands were manufactured and placed on store shelves.
Loratadine is the generic form of Claritin. Cetirizine is the generic form of Zyrtec.
When buying over-the-counter drugs, Scott tells his patients to avoid medications with pseudoephedrine.
Sudafed and Claritin-D are examples of decongestants with pseudoephedrine.
Pseudoephedrine is used in the production of methamphetamine, which is why a person who buys drugs with the ingredient has to fill out a form with a pharmacist.
Pseudoephedrine constricts the blood vessels in the nose, which is how it acts as a decongestant, but the drug also constricts other blood vessels in the body, which is why Scott advises using the drug minimally or not at all, even for colds or sinus problems.
“It’s a powerful drug, and I think it’s a lousy drug,” he said.
Scott suggested a person use nasal steroids available from a physician.
He also said allergy eye drops such as Zaditor are effective. Zaditor is available over-the-counter.
Allergy shots are a last resort, Scott said.
Malvern said she will resume her shots this winter.
Her husband, Mike Malvern, also receives allergy shots after developing allergies in recent years. The Malverns are in their 50s.
Scott said it’s not uncommon for people to develop allergies later in life or even after moving from one climate to another.
A person from the Midwest who moves to the Grand Valley could develop an allergy to sagebrush and other plants not found in the Midwest, Scott said.
The topography of the Grand Valley also creates additional problems for allergy sufferers because the wind can carry pollens or grasses for miles, he said.
When allergens get into the valley, they can’t get over Grand Mesa, so they settle into the valley, he said.