LAYTON — These days, by the time most people climb out of bed, Dr. Shay Holley has already treated three asthma patients in the emergency room at Davis Hospital and Medical Center.
The hospital has seen a significant increase in patients coming to the emergency department with allergies and asthma in the past two months. Holley said several have had to be admitted to the hospital because of the severity of their symptoms.
This year was the third-warmest summer on record, according to the National Climatic Data Center, making the allergy season longer and possibly more severe.
Not only are trees blasting pollen into the air, but Americans are likely also being exposed to a new super-pollen.
According to a study at the University of North Carolina, plants treated with carbon dioxide and ozone emissions release a more potent pollen with higher amounts of allergens per pollen grain.
In addition, health officials say, wildfires are also causing respiratory distress in more patients. People are complaining of headaches, sinus infections, burning eyes and shortness of breath.
“I am definitely seeing more allergy patients at this time,” said Dr. Douglas Jones, a physician at Rocky Mountain Allergy, Asthma & Immunology in Layton.
“The season has really worsened for people in the last two to three weeks.”
Not only do allergies make you feel miserable, but the symptoms can also trigger asthma, and that can be life-threatening for many people.
“Who a person sees for allergies can really make a difference,” Jones said.
“I recommend seeking out a physician with experience and appropriate training to do allergy testing and treatment. Not all allergy testing methods are the same. There are some that are more effective than others.”
And some tests and treatments can be downright dangerous, Jones said.
One chain of urgent-care centers operating in six states was recently sued for inappropriate testing and treating of patients with allergies.
Jones said unconventional methods of testing and treatment are increasingly being used across the nation as well as the state, putting some patients at risk for unnecessary harm.
In addition, Jones said, many over-the-counter medications, such as Benadryl, may treat symptoms, but the side effects can be detrimental.
“The side effects can impair school and work performance,” he said.
“In addition to being sedating, they are impairing. There’s a study from the University of Iowa that shows people who are legally drunk do better on driving simulators than those who had a dose of Benadryl.”
Davis Hospital and Medical Center has recently launched a new type of asthma procedure. Bronchial thermoplasty is a nondrug outpatient procedure that reduces excessive airway smooth muscle, decreasing the ability of the airways to constrict and narrow during an asthma attack.
Sometimes it can be hard to distinguish an allergy from a cold.
Jones said cold symptoms are usually limited to one to two weeks and may be accompanied by a slight fever.
Allergy symptoms, he said, are more prolonged and a fever usually is not present.