Thomas Elliott has struggled since he was a baby with recurring sinus infections and he was diagnosed at the age of 4 with asthma.
His sneezing and stuffiness finally got so bad that he recently went to the Asthma and Allergy Center in Parkersburg where he was tested for allergies.
"He had to do all the allergy testing - 42 needles," said his mother, Ada Elliott.
The test revealed that Elliott, 17, of Harrisville, W.Va., is allergic to all trees, grasses and fall pollens.
"The worst is my nose gets stuffy and sneezing," said Thomas Elliott, who received his first injections Tuesday and is hopeful they will help him.
Jason Trusty, a physician assistant at the Asthma and Allergy Center in Parkersburg, said there are many things a person can do to alleviate their allergies, from taking over-the-counter medication to getting injections.
Spring allergy alleviation
Keep windows closed to prevent pollens from drifting into your home.
Minimize early morning activity since pollen is usually emitted between 5 and 10 a.m.
Keep your car windows closed when traveling.
Stay indoors when the pollen count is reported to be high and on windy days when pollen may be present in higher amounts in the air.
Take a vacation during the height of the pollen season to a more pollen-free area, such as the beach.
Avoid freshly cut grass and mowing the lawn.
Machine dry bedding and clothing. Pollen may collect in laundry if it is hung outside to dry.
Source: The Weather Channel, www.weather.com.
Trusty noted the office has been very busy since about mid-March with people suffering from spring allergies.
"In the spring time it's the trees and grass," he said. "Everyone is out mowing and everyone wants to be outside."
Trusty said the office has seen a mix of adults and children suffering from allergies. He pointed out that while some people start suffering from allergies very early on in life, there are others who don't have symptoms of allergies until much later.
"You see that a lot more often than what you'd think," he said.
Trusty also noted that 70 percent of patients have year-round allergy symptoms that just get worse in the spring and fall. He said things that commonly cause year round allergies include dust mites, mold and animal hair.
Common symptoms of allergies, Trusty said, include nasal congestion, post nasal drip, itchy and watery eyes, sneezing and an itchy nose.
Most people who visit the Asthma and Allergy Center, he said, have had no success treating their allergies with over-the-counter medication such as Allegra or Claritin.
To determine exactly what is causing their allergies, he said patients are usually tested through a method called prick testing in which the skin is scratched with plastic bearing common allergens such as local grasses, weeds and trees.
If a welt appears within 20 minutes, then the patient is indeed allergic to what the skin has been scratched with.
Besides taking over-the-counter medication, he said those suffering from allergies can do other things to alleviate their symptoms, including keeping the windows shut so pollen does not enter a home and turning on the air conditioner so pollens that do get into a home are filtered out.
"When they come inside, we stress changing clothes right away and showering," Trusty added.
Trusty noted that over-the-counter allergy medication works better when taken daily rather than on an as-needed basis.
He said if over-the-counter allergy medication doesn't work, the next step is to see an allergist who will likely prescribe medication or possibly suggest injections.
"I reserve those for people who have symptoms constantly, their symptoms aren't controlled on medication or if it starts affecting their chest," Trusty said of injections. "It trains the body so it doesn't respond to the allergy anymore."
Trusty noted allergies can cause many other serious issues including asthma and recurring ear, nose and throat infections so they should be addressed in some manner.