Mar 6, 2018
Spring is still weeks away, but grass and pollen are already floating through the air and making plenty of people miserable—including Nana Mireku, MD, with the USMD Allergy, Asthma and Immunology Clinic in Las Colinas. “I’ve suffered from severe allergies since I was five years old,” she admits. “That’s why I have a passion for this area of medicine. As a physician, I want to help other people figure out how to deal with their allergies.”
As it turns out, the Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area is fertile ground for lots of nasty allergens. Tree and grass pollen is abundant here. “Particularly, Mountain Cedar tree pollen,” says Dr. Mireku. “Our spring allergy season starts much earlier than other states because Mountain Cedar pollinates in December, January and February. So, even when the weather is cooler and ragweed is no longer a factor, we still have Mountain Cedar spores in the air.”
That means the peak of spring allergy season can actually start in January or February in North Texas. As the weather grows warmer, the grasses pollinate all the way into summer—plenty of time for many of us to suffer with itchy, watery eyes, nasal congestion, a runny nose, and sore throat. If you’re one of the unfortunate ones, chances are you’ve probably tried over-the-counter medications. While store-bought remedies may help, allergies really should be managed with a physician who can help identify your underlying triggers.
Get ahead of your allergies.
“In order to be proactive with treating your allergies, you need to know what your triggers are,” says Dr. Mireku. “An allergist will help by listening, noting your symptoms and conducting a skin-prick test that identifies what you’re allergic to.”
Allergy testing is simple and painless.
“It doesn’t hurt,” Dr. Mireku assures. “We don’t use needles. Patients lie on their stomach while their back is pricked with a plastic device that’s been dipped in allergen extracts from trees, grass, weeds, dust, mold, cats, dogs, and other likely indoor and outdoor allergens. It just feels like a slight pinch on the back and doesn’t break the skin. After the pollens are applied, we wait for about 20 minutes to see if there is slight swelling where the extracts were applied.”
Most people are polysensitive—allergic to more than one pollen.
“Once we know what you’re allergic to, we’ll create an individualized plan to proactively manage your triggers and get you through the allergy season with minimal symptoms,” Dr. Mireku explains.
A customized plan to keep your allergies at bay.
Everyone is different. What triggers your allergies may be different than what triggers allergies in someone else. But there are three components to a good allergy plan—avoidance, pharmacotherapy (medications), and immunotherapy (allergy shots).
Avoidance – Steering clear of things that you are allergic to may seem like a no-brainer, but sometimes it can be tough. “If you work outdoors or like to garden, wear a mask and gloves, and try your best not to rub your eyes when your outdoors,” Dr. Mireku advises. “If you exercise outdoors, you may want to do so before dawn or early evening when spring pollen is typically lower.
Medications – Most people who suffer from allergies may need more help than provided by over-the-counter nasal sprays and antihistamines. Prescription medications can be very effective in preventing allergies and providing relief from symptoms.
Immunotherapy (allergy shots) – If your allergies are a chronic problem that lead to recurrent ear infections, sinus infections, or asthma flare-ups, allergy shots can help.
The allergy-asthma connection.
“There are many things that can trigger asthma,” says Dr. Mireku. “Viruses, infections, changes in the weather, exercise, and allergies. In children especially, allergies can lead to asthma. And in our area, Mountain Cedar can definitely trigger asthma.”
While Dr. Mireku notes that inhalers are used to manage asthma symptoms, she say’s inhalers alone are not enough. Children as young as three or four can be tested for various pollens. “Once we have identified the pollens that trigger your child’s asthma, then nasal sprays, antihistamines and allergy shots can be used in combination to manage their asthma and allow them to function like any other child while pursuing goals and enjoying athletic activities.”
Let us help!
Today, there are so many effective ways keep allergies at bay. “For people five years of age and older, we have great treatments available to keep allergies from being a recurring health issue,” says Dr. Mireku. “The first step is to talk with an allergist.”
If allergies are affecting your quality of life, Dr. Nana Mireku is here to help. To schedule a consultation, please call 972.996.5735.