With warm weather and blue skies, the great outdoors may seem inviting, but if you have seasonal allergies, especially to grass, going outside may be the last thing you want to do.
With all the extra rain and moisture this year, Joe Anderson, a physician and allergist with Intermountain Allergy and Asthma in Ogden, said spring grass is abundant.
Unfortunately, that is a recipe for disaster for those allergic to grass pollens -- the most common allergen in Utah.
"It's been really bad the last couple of weeks," Anderson said.
And there's more bad news.
The grass pollinating season is here for the next three months, he said, noting that it's the flower on the top of tall, wild grasses that most often creates problems for allergy sufferers.
And if you're allergic to weed pollens, your suffering will continue through October.
"We try to get people so that they can enjoy the outdoors, but the best thing is to stay inside and avoid the allergens," Anderson said.
Take a look on Intermountain Allergy and Asthma's website at intermountainallergy.com or on http://www.weather.com/outlook/health/allergies/weather/USUT0187, and you'll see that grass pollens now are at their highest level here, and they are predicted to stay that way as long as there is good, warm weather.
Seasonal allergies are a problem for roughly 20 percent of the population in the United States, and that percentage is growing, Anderson said.
The symptoms often can be debilitating.
"People often discount the symptoms of allergy," Anderson said.
The reality is that people can suffer nasal congestion, sore throat, runny nose and severe sneezing that goes on for a number of sneezes in a row.
There's also frequently a cough that doesn't seem to go away.
"This doesn't just last a few weeks," he said. "This can go on for three months or more."
Anderson said there are three avenues for relief from allergies.
The first, as already mentioned, is avoiding the allergens.
Anderson recommends keeping windows shut, and using air conditioning to stay cool instead of a breeze from outside, even in cars.
And hanging clothes and sheets on a clothesline is not a smart idea, because that gives them a chance to collect pollens.
"When you go to bed, you don't want to be lying in pollen," he said.
Anderson said some of his patients wear a paper mask when mowing the lawn and even swim goggles to keep the pollen out of their bodies.
The next two avenues for relief, he said, are medications for the short run and immunotherapy for the long run.
"The over-the-counter medications are much stronger than they used to be," he said, recommending antihistamines and eye drops.
But steroid nasal sprays work the best. For those, a prescription is needed.
While medications address the symptoms, Anderson said a long-term commitment to submit to immunotherapy can essentially cure a person of allergies.
Immunotherapy is a system of discovering what allergens a person is exposed to, what they have an allergy to and which ones they respond to with symptoms.
Once the proper immunotherapy formula is calculated, the person with allergies is injected with high doses of specific allergens until he or she builds up immunities to them. Anderson said this can take three or four years of injections for the best results.
But he said there is hope on the horizon for those who don't want injections to cure their allergies.
There is a tablet that dissolves under the tongue that is proving to work, he said.
Anderson said the tablets should be approved by the Food and Drug Administration in the next one to five years.