SRHN Allergy Center Discusses the Type of Allergy Season to Expect During Northern California Drought

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The Allergy Center at Santa Rosa Head and Neck Surgery (SRHN) reminds Sonoma County residents of the imminent allergy season.

Linda Biggers, Allergy Clinic Manager & Clinician

I urge all Sonoma County nasal allergy sufferers to seek diagnosis with a nasal allergy specialist to ensure that they receive the best treatment, and so that they can enjoy the rich atmosphere our Northern California home has to offer.

Due to the extended drought that California has experienced over the past year, the density of allergens in the air is expected to vary from years with normal rainfall. Sonoma County, with its diverse plant life and warm weather, is already a hot bed for pesky allergens, and a recent test conducted by AccuWeather shows that allergenic grass pollens are currently highly concentrated in the area.

More than 50 million Americans suffer from uncomfortable allergy symptoms each year, and Sonoma County residents are no strangers to pesky allergens that concentrate the air during the months of spring. March, April, and May are the peak months for many allergy sufferers, and the upcoming spring may prove to be one of the worst seasons for allergy sufferers on record. A recent article in the Press Democrat cites findings from AccuWeather that show the current concentration of pollen in the area to be very high.

The extended drought affects the density and type of allergens in the air in several ways. Typically with less rainfall, fewer plants blossom in spring leading to less new pollens being introduced into the atmosphere; however, due to the extended absence of rain, old pollens remain in the air since there hasn’t been enough rain to wash them away. Wind patterns can also spread mold allergens and pollens that haven’t been washed away to new regions, introducing new types of allergens to areas that would normally be free of them.

When symptoms of allergies arise such as itching, sneezing, watery or burning eyes, congestion, and coughing, having an allergy test with a specialist is the best way to determine the source of your symptoms and how to relieve them. It’s common for people to just assume that their symptoms are allergy related, but sometimes they are not, and when they are a result of allergic reaction, only a test can tell which allergens are causing symptoms.

Variations in the concentration of pollens and molds in the air can also cause allergic reactions in people who have never experienced allergies before. Most allergic reactions happen when the body’s immune system reacts to a ‘false alarm’ and attempts to fight off an otherwise harmless substance. The body is exposed to small levels of allergens everyday, and only when exposure to an allergen surpasses the body’s unique threshold do symptoms arise.

The drought in California has shown to increase the concentration of pollens in the air, and perhaps because of this high concentration, the Allergy Center has recently seen an increase of allergy diagnoses for patients that come in with ‘cold-like symptoms that just won’t go away.’ These patients are often surprised that their symptoms are due to allergies, having never experience allergic reactions before. After proper diagnosis, an allergy specialist can administer a specific remedy that has shown most effective at combating the patient’s specific allergies.

The Allergy Center at SRHN offers a unique, collaborative care model to patients suffering from symptoms of allergies. Experienced Allergy Specialist and SRHN allergy clinic manager Linda Biggers works alongside SRHN Otolaryngologists, ear, nose, and throat (ENT) surgeons, to provide patients with integrated, multi-specialist care. Linda is a member of the American Academy of Otolaryngic Allergy and has additional training in immunotherapy from ALK Abello, the world leader in allergy vaccination. A Sonoma County native, Linda is especially familiar with the types of allergens in the area.

Linda explains, “At the Allergy Center at SRHN, we offer skin testing for identifying inhalant allergies, and it takes, on average, only 30 minutes to receive a detailed, specific results report after the test. Once the results are in, we can start our patients on their own personalized treatment plans. I urge all Sonoma County nasal allergy sufferers to seek diagnosis with a nasal allergy specialist to ensure that they receive the best treatment, and so that they can enjoy the rich atmosphere our Northern California home has to offer.”

Allergy treatment at SRHN may include nasal-sprays, antihistamines, decongestants, immunotherapy, allergy eye drops, and more. Outside of treatment, allergy sufferers can reduce their symptoms by keeping windows closed, limiting time spent outdoors, showering after exposure to pollens, vacuuming frequently, and keeping pets off of furniture and clothing. Since activities like mowing the lawn and gardening can drastically exacerbate symptoms, it is best to avoid these activities during peak allergy season.

Santa Rosa Head and Neck Surgical Group (SRHN) is Sonoma County’s leading provider of otolaryngologic (ENT) healthcare. The ENT surgeons provide non-surgical evaluation, as well as surgical expertise in chronic ear surgery, reconstructive plastic surgery, tumor removal, thyroid and parathyroid conditions, sleep apnea, sinus problems, and more. With a team of audiologists at the Hearing Center, an allergy specialist at the Allergy Center, and a clinical aesthetician all at one location, SRHN provides comprehensive care with physician collaboration for all ENT healthcare needs.

The Allergy Center at SRHN, located at 1701 4th Street, Suite 120, Santa Rosa, offers the latest available treatments in immunotherapy and allergy medications. To schedule an appointment with Linda Biggers or an ENT doctor, please call (707) 523-7025.

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John Beilharz
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Northern California Medical Associates
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