Health Center warns about mixed winter, spring allergy seasons

Many over-the-counter products are available to combat seasonal allergies. Photo illustration by Grace Everett | Photographer

By Sarah Wang | Staff Writer

February marks the start of the spring allergy season and, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 25.7% of U.S. adults and children who suffer from an allergy also may struggle with seasonal allergies.

Dr. Sharon Stern, medical director of health services at Baylor, said she suggests students start taking preventative measures to cope with allergies because there is an overlap from winter to spring.

“Allergies in central Texas are pretty much nonstop,” Stern said.

Stern said there are specific allergens throughout each season. From December to February, allergies to mountain cedar are typical. Common springtime allergies are to oak and elm trees from March to May, with summer allergies of grasses and ragweed allergies in the fall.

“It’s kind of an all year thing. We are having a bit more of a problem because we have an overlap because the oak and elm trees are already starting to pollinate and they are crossing over with the mountain cedar,” Stern said.

Stern also said having issues with allergies is not uncommon on campus, and most people’s can be treated at home. There are people, however, who are not sure if the symptoms they are having are due to allergies.

The health services director said she recommends people who are having any kind of seasonal allergy reaction should stay indoors and make sure all windows and doors are closed. Air purifiers and nasal sprays can also be helpful, she said.

Stern also said the Health Center offers treatment and allergy injections. According to the Health Services website, “before allergy injections are given an appointment must be made with a physician or nurse practitioner to ensure instructions from allergist are clear.”

Mary Stephenson, faculty member of the Success Center, said she had to work remotely Tuesday due to allergies. Although she said she’s not sure what exactly triggered her seasonal allergies this time, she knows she is allergic to grass and ragweed.

“I didn’t let my allergies get out of control, knowing Texas is a big allergy state,” Stephenson said. “I took it for granted, so I didn’t take my allergy meds. I didn’t do get proper rest and I put everything else before that, so now I’m paying for it but healing quickly.”

Stephenson said the reason she has to stay home is due to the lack of self care she’s given herself. She said she is now aiming to focus more on getting enough rest and finding the best way to cope with her allergies.

“It is important for me to remember to be more proactive in addressing my allergies before the pollen counts get higher,” Stephenson said. “I am currently looking into finding homeopathic ways to prevent and relieve allergies in a natural way.”

Stern said in order to deal with allergies, it is important for people to know their own body and whether or not they’re experiencing a reaction.

“Knowing your own body and understanding what you can do to help prevent the allergic reaction [are important], and know how you can treat it when it’s there,” Stern said.