Eagle County residents try to deal with seasonal allergies
EAGLE COUNTY – Warm weather, green grass and blooming flowers can mean misery for seasonal allergy sufferers, even for those living above 6,000 feet.Contrary to popular belief, there are plenty of allergy triggers to be found in Eagle County, said Dr. William Silvers, who treats allergy patients in Eagle and Summit counties. Tree and grass pollen, two of the most common seasonal allergy triggers, can be found in the High Country. Even ragweed – the No. 1 enemy of many allergy sufferers – is starting to pop up in places like Eagle, Silver said. Pharmacist John Geddes doesn’t need a doctor to tell him it’s allergy season. He can tell by the throngs of people who have been coming to the pharmacy in Gypsum’s Columbine Market to load up on over-the-counter allergy medicines. “It began around the first week of May,” Geddes said. “It will probably last all through the summer.”Jeannine Landcaster, a pharmacist for Avon’s City Market, agreed. “‘Tis the season,” she said. “We’ve been filling lots and lots of prescriptions for allergy medication.”
Eagle County doesn’t have as many allergy-triggering plants as Denver. Much of that has to do with the county’s higher elevation, but having longer winters helps with that, too. But once the snow begins to thaw in March and tree pollen is in the air, residents and tourists with allergies will notice. There is a lot of grass pollen in the air beginning in May, Silvers said. Eagle County isn’t a haven for a lot of other common allergy triggers, like ragweed. “That’s why the musicians from New York and Rochester philharmonic love coming to Vail,” he said. “That’s a weed that primarily grows on the East Coast.”But Silvers’ office is seeing some ragweed in Eagle, and he speculates it may be because of ongoing construction in that part of the county. Disrupting dirt makes it more vulnerable and more likely to allow ragweed seeds to grow into plants, he said. “It just didn’t take in Vail, but it is in Eagle,” he said.
Seasonal allergy sufferers have symptoms like itchy eyes, a runny nose, wheezing and a cough. There are several over-the-counter allergy medicines, also known as “antihistamines,” that sufferers can use to quell their symptoms. Anyone wishing to buy an over-the-counter allergy medicine should look for ones that contain loratadine, which is effective but does not cause drowsiness, Silvers said. People with allergies should consider seeing an allergy specialist if their symptoms are recurrent or if they begin to develop asthma or other health problems, Silver said. Many people mistake their allergies for a cold.”What people call the springtime-season cold probably really is an asthmatic bronchitis,” Silvers said. Patients who get sinus infections around this time of year also should consider seeing an allergy specialist, Silvers said. Ignoring allergy symptoms could lead to bigger problems that affect the lungs, like asthma or bronchitis, he said.
Along with medication, keeping bedroom windows closed and using an air filter – preferably one with a HEPA-filter – can help. But avoiding the outdoors is not the solution Silvers would recommend.”I will tell you that I think the reason we live in Colorado is to be able to enjoy being outdoors with nature,” he said. Staff Writer Tamara Miller can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 607, or firstname.lastname@example.org.Vail, Colorado
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