Student Health Services Offers Tips for Spring Allergy Season

Posted: May 17, 2004 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Christopher Anzalone

The spring allergy season began earlier than usual this year in many East Coast states as a result of the bouts of unusually warm weather in early March. Despite the advanced start of this spring’s allergy season, the number of George Mason students who came in to Student Health Services (SHS) with allergy complaints was “almost the same” as the 2003 spring season, says Wagida Abdalla, the office’s medical director.

The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America recently ranked the top 100 worst cities for allergy and asthma sufferers, placing the Washington, D.C., area at 97 and the Baltimore-Hagerstown, Md., area at 42.

The increase in pollen and other allergy-inducing elements, coupled with the area’s generally unhealthy summer air quality, makes the late spring and summer seasons hard on individuals with allergies, as well as those with breathing conditions such as asthma. In its recently released State of the Air: 2004 report, the American Lung Association (ALA) gave Fairfax County an “F” grade for its large number of high ozone days and a “D” grade in the category of 24-hour particle pollution levels. According to the ALA, some 318,643 people in the county currently suffer from various forms of asthma, chronic bronchitis, emphysema, and cardiovascular disease, making them much more susceptible to the region’s poor air quality.

Abdalla recommends that those who suffer from allergies or other respiratory conditions follow a series of rules during seasons with high amounts of pollen, mold, and other natural irritants:

  • Avoid going outside when the pollen count is high or during the time of the year when your allergies cause the most problems
  • Keep the windows and doors shut at home and in the car, and use an air conditioner
  • Change the air filter in your home every month
  • When you come inside, shower to wash off pollen on the hair and skin
  • Visit your health care provider before the allergy season to get prescriptions for allergy medication

Abdalla notes that SHS has a walk-in allergy injection clinic twice a week during the allergy season to enable students to continue receiving shots prescribed by their allergist. “We encourage our students to call us if they have any questions and to make an appointment to discuss their allergy symptoms and get treatment,” she says.

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