Summer allergies are now common

Summer allergies are now common

Wellness Advice from Northwest Health

Itchy eyes. Nasal congestion. Sneezing. At least one in four Americans are now experiencing seasonal allergies throughout the spring, summer and fall.  Many people believe their allergies are getting worse every year, with more irritation over a longer period of time, and it’s not their imagination.

Scientists are seeing higher pollen concentrations and lengthier pollen seasons due to shifts in weather and temperature patterns. With the earlier start to the warm season and higher average daily temperatures, plants pollinate early and seasonal allergens such as tree pollen, mold and other spores grow faster as the plants get larger. Higher wind intensity blows pollens and allergens across longer distances, bringing new allergens to the community.

All that pollen can trigger allergic reactions in the nose and eyes when the immune system mistakes the pollen as a threat and acts in the body’s defense. Nasal allergies, or allergic rhinitis, have symptoms including sneezing, running nose and congestion. Red, watery or itchy eyes can be a symptom of allergic conjunctivitis, an inflammation of the lining of the eye.

“Allergies can be passed along genetically or through environmental exposure, and they can develop as you age,” said Emily Waldkoetter, PA, an internal medicine provider with Northwest Medical Group in Valparaiso. “When your immune system detects an allergen like pollen, the release of histamines causes inflammation and more mucus production, generating those familiar allergy symptoms. At Northwest Medical Group, my colleagues and I are seeing that higher pollen concentrations and longer pollen seasons are aggravating allergies for many people.”

Waldkoetter says there is no cure for seasonal allergies but immunotherapy can help desensitize the immune system.

Over-the-counter antihistamine and steroid medications are widely used to relieve allergy symptoms. Antihistamines are available as nasal sprays, eye drops and oral pills. Steroids come as nasal sprays. 

Take steps to minimize exposure to pollen by monitoring pollen levels and minimizing time outdoors when counts are high. If you do need to be outdoors, remove the pollen when you come inside by changing clothes and taking a shower to rinse off hair and skin. Use the air conditioner and HEPA filters to reduce pollen indoors.

When seasonal allergies impact your quality of life, talk to your provider about symptom relief medications or treatments that can help. If you need a provider, call Northwest Medical Group at 219-548-3843.

About Northwest Health

Northwest Health is a regional healthcare system committed to providing communities in Northwest Indiana with high-quality, accessible health care — from highly specialized care and surgical services to more routine primary care. The system of more than 60 access points includes three hospitals, five emergency departments, urgent care centers, outpatient surgery centers, an ambulance service, and physician offices. A team of more than 3,000 employees work together with the more than 700 physicians on its medical staffs  to fulfill its mission: to help people get well and live healthier.  For more information, visit