Fall allergies and an early flu season impacting the Lowcountry

Lots of post-nasal drip, misery, just not feeling well, too much drainage; Sound familiar? If you are suffering from fall allergies, you are not alone.

“The fall is always a tough time for people with mold allergies, weed allergies. Sometimes a little bit indoor allergen like dust mites is worse in the fall as well,” explains Doctor Bruce Ball, an allergist and immunologist at Charleston Allergy and Asthma. He says a combination of things could be making you feel crumby.

“Interestingly, people who are allergic, part of their immunologic response to them makes them a little more sticky to viruses. So they tend to get viruses, they’re better at producing mucus, they’re a lot more symptomatic,” says Dr. Ball.

And the flu virus has already hit the Lowcountry.

“This does seem to be a little early this year. And we’re a little concerned this year that the flu is gonna be tough. It’s been pretty hard the last couple of years. But there’s a lot of people that haven’t really seen this strain of the flu. And it always mutates each year so it could be a tougher one,” Dr. Ball predicts.

But how do you tell whether you are suffering from allergies or just a virus?

“Usually a virus, whether it’s the flu or any of the other many viruses out there, they’ll often start with a clear runny nose. It turns discolored, yellow, green for three to five maybe seven days and then it gets better. Whereas allergies tend to be, for the most part, clear secretions, chronic, much more lasting symptoms, may be repetative sneezing,” explains Dr. Ball. He says if you have long lasting symptoms, there are medicines at your local pharmacy that can help.

“What I tell some of my patients is that if they get really good therapy, and there are some good therapies over the counter: antihistamines, topical nasal steroids. But if all of those wonderful therapies don’t work well enough, you need to figure out what’s driving your problem,” Dr. Ball advises. “For certain people, if you figure out specifically what your allergic to, then we can give you very specific therapy and get you better over time and less allergic over time.”

So there is hope if you can’t stop sniffling and sneezing.

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