Tips for the allergy season | Dr. Petter

Seasonal allergy season has officially arrived. Pollen counts are moderate for trees, specifically birch, juniper and ash in Western Washington.

If you are one of the 40 million seasonal allergy sufferers plagued by those all too familiar symptoms (i.e., sneezing, drippy nose, congested sinuses, scratchy throat, cough, fatigue, and or watery / itchy eyes), relief may be only two steps away.

Managing symptoms is really a two-step process:

1. Reduce exposure

• Keep windows and doors closed when pollen counts are high.

• Keep pets out of the bedroom and off the furniture.

• Use a dehumidifier inside your home to keep the air dry.

• Use allergy-proof covers for your mattress and pillow case.

• Vacuum carpets at least once a week.

• Periodically clean the filter in your home ventilation system. Use a micron allergy grade filter.

2. Over-the-counter medications

• Consider using oral antihistamines (i.e., Allegra, Claritin and Zyrtec). These newer medications should not cause drowsiness or elevate blood pressure.

• If you suffer from eye irritation, consider using a saline eye drop (artificial tears), or an antihistamine (Zaditor).

• Sinus congestion can be eased by many products: Sudafed (do not use if you have high blood pressure), Afrin nasal spray (do not use for prolonged periods of time as it can cause more congestions), and saline nasal rinse (Ocean nasal spray and/or a Netty Pot).

• Headaches can be typically helped by Tylenol (acetaminophen) and/or Advil (ibuprofen).

If these tips do not provide allergy symptom relief, schedule an appointment to see your doctor. Excellent prescription medications are available to control symptoms. Specific allergy testing may be necessary (blood sample or skin testing). Certainly, be sure to see a doctor promptly if at any time you have a fever or develop colored phlegm production.

For more information about allergies and allergens (pollen), I recommend visiting, a national allergy and public information website.

Dr. Linda Petter of Auburn is a weekly feature on KOMO TV/News Radio (1000 AM and 97.7 FM) every Saturday and Sunday 7:45 a.m. and 9:45 a.m., and on a weekday during the morning and evening commute. She trained at the Mayo Clinic and the University of Illinois, Carle Hospital. Dr. Petter is chief of the Department of Family Practice at St. Francis Hospital in Federal Way. She is a consumer healthcare advocate, and her books, "Healthcare On a Budget" and "Common Medical Sense", are available on Visit her website,, or call her office at 253-568-0841.

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