Itchy eyes? Runny nose? Scratchy throat? Join the club. According to the SOU Student Health and Wellness Center, you may have allergic rhinitis.
Southern Oregonians have been experiencing an early and severe allergy season this year with symptoms consistent with allergic rhinitis effecting individuals with pollen sensitivities as early as January. A typical allergy season in the area usually doesn’t pick up until mid-late February or March.
“I can’t even go outside sometimes,” says commuter student, Ray Kaupel, “my eyes get watery and bloodshot, my nose won’t stop running. It’s terrible.”
The reason? Though multiple factors contribute to the level and severity of symptoms experienced by an individual, including overall sensitivity, some professionals in the area are blaming this year’s mild winter temperatures.
“The weather was warmer,” said Dr. Laura Robins with the SOU Student Health and Wellness Center, “grasses and pollens came out a little earlier.”
Though Rogue Valley locals often adapt to the regions heavily pollenated springtime-air, individuals with varied sensitivities are at a higher risk of experiencing more severe symptoms, or developing some form of complication. One such risk includes upper respiratory issues.
James Cecil, a student at Rogue Valley Community College, described his grandmother’s struggle with allergies this year as being “unexpected,” as seasonal allergy symptoms lead to her hospitalization.
“We all have allergies,” Cecil said, “but she’s been in the hospital for two days. She’s always been sensitive to the pollens around here and the mills nearby, but this was definitely unexpected.”
So, exactly how much worse is this allergy season than the last? According to Dr. Robin, the results are interesting.
“I looked at our March appointments with diagnosis of allergic rhinitis (runny nose due to allergies) and we had ten visits with that diagnosis this March,” Dr. Robin said, “as compared to three visits in March of 2014. We do see a lot of students with allergies who are not visiting here to discuss allergies, and thus the diagnosis code may not be on the chart notes.”
While there are a number of different remedies to combat seasonal allergies, ranging from the consumption of local honey to double doses of vitamin C, Kaupel, a long time victim of allergic rhinitis, takes the more direct approach choosing from a wide variety of over the counter anti-histamines.
“Pills work,” he says, “and lots of eye drops for the burn!”
Keep an eye on your symptoms. If you begin to get bronchitis or your allergies turn to a virus, sinus infection or pneumonia, don’t try to get through it on your own. These conditions can become quite serious and you’ll need medical care. The bottom line is that you’re better off safe than sorry. Your campus health center is there to help.