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The Season for Sneezin’: Allergy Answers from Gwinnett Medical Center

Nothing is quite as delightful this time of year as a field of wildflowers in bloom unless of course, you have allergies. If that’s the case, you’re probably one of the 36 million Americans who wake up each spring morning with a runny nose, itchy eyes and a scratchy throat, all symptoms of seasonal allergies. But, Michael Pickford, MD, an otolaryngologist with Gwinnett ENT says there is relief.

 “Don’t waste your life suffering needlessly. You don’t have to put up with it.”

“For 99 percent of patients with allergies, it is not a life-and-death situation, but rather a quality-of-life issue,” he says. “Don’t waste your life suffering needlessly. You don’t have to put up with it.”

Here, we help you understand your pesky seasonal allergies.

How do you know if your symptoms can be attributed to allergies?
It can be challenging to differentiate between colds and allergies, but there are distinguishing signs.
Allergy symptoms usually begin immediately after exposure to the allergen and last as long as you are exposed to it. You will probably experience itchy and watery eyes, a runny nose and sneezing, according to Dr. Pickford.

Cold symptoms typically take a few days to develop and subside within several days to a week. Symptoms of a cold usually include fever, aches and pains, and a runny nose or sneezing.

“Many of the symptoms of colds and allergies are similar, and sometimes the only way to sort out the cause is to visit a physician,” Dr. Pickford says. What can be done to prevent allergy symptoms?

You don’t have to live in a bubble to avoid seasonal allergy attacks. There are steps you can take to avoid symptoms. Dr. Pickford recommends that allergy sufferers begin the spring season with a thorough household cleaning because mold, dust and other allergens tend to collect during the winter. Pay attention to the pollen and mold counts, and avoid outdoor activities until 10 a.m., because pollen counts are highest in the morning. Allergens also are more widespread in hot, dry and windy conditions.

When should you see a doctor about allergies?
See a doctor if allergy symptoms become unmanageable or resistant to current methods of treatment. “A physician can help you find medications and dosages that will work best for you,” says Dr. Pickford. He also recommends speaking to your physician about allergy immunotherapy, also called allergy shots.

“Certain allergic reactions require immediate medical attention, though,” he adds. “Talk to your doctor about your risk and establish a plan of action in the event a serious reaction should occur.”

Can surgery help allergies?
Surgery can’t make the allergies go away, but surgery is sometimes an option to help your sinuses function better, according to Dr. Pickford. “Through minimally invasive sinus surgery techniques, such as Balloon Sinuplasty™ and image-guided endoscopic sinus surgery (ESS), the sinus passages can be enlarged and clogged sinuses drained.”

Gwinnett Medical Center is committed to improving the quality of life and outcomes for those who suffer from seasonal allergies. Learn more about sinus conditions and treatments at or find a physician at 678-312-5000.