NORFOLK, Va. — Pollen is in the air, which has caused a headache for allergy sufferers.
One of them, Bobbie Tucker, said this allergy season has been one of the most brutal she has ever experienced while living in Hampton Roads.
“It's the worst,” said Tucker. “It’s just everywhere! And it's making me itch, sneeze and cough, and my throat is dry.”
Others, like Autumn McCollum, a dog walker in Norfolk, said she can’t escape it.
Her job requires her to be outside every day.
“I’m sneezing a lot more, some congestion. I definitely notice the dogs sneezing,” said McCollum.
Dr. Kent Lam, an allergist in the Ear, Nose and Throat Department at Eastern Virginia Medical School said this allergy season has been a lot more abrupt than previous years due to an abrupt switch from the winter to spring season.
Dr. Lam spends an extensive amount of time researching allergy treatments.
“What I found most important for patients with allergies is starting a good nasal regimen with using a nasal spray. It's a good way of using nasal hygiene,” said Lam.
Nasal and other allergy medications have increasingly become more available over the counter.
It's what many people, like Tucker, turn to in order to ease their symptoms.
“Benadryl, Claritin, but I work so I don't really like to do the Benadryl cause I’m gonna be sleepy,” said Tucker.
If those medications aren't working for you, Dr. Lam said newer options have become available and continue to improve.
One of them is the use of Sublingual Immunotherapy tablets, an alternative to allergy shots.
“What has been new over the past few years has been Sublingual Immunotherapy tablets. What we're doing is exposing patients to the allergens that are causing the symptoms and over time, that helps their immune system build up a tolerance,” said Dr. Lam.
Dr. Lam said so far this year, he has seen a rise in the number of patients who have turned to this treatment.
But McCullom said she’d rather just deal with the symptoms.
“Gotta just brace through it. Just gotta keep going,” said McCullom.
Dr. Lam said his patients who have undergone Immunotherapy have received positive results.
“They feel that their symptoms improved significantly, and that is reflected in their quality of life,” said Dr. Lam.
Sublingual Immunotherapy tablets require a prescription and allergy test. The treatment is individualized for each patient.
Dr. Lam said the tablets work best when a doctor identifies just one or two main allergies that are bothering the patient.