Allergies worsened by open fields

By Julie Zvitkovits

Signs of spring such as flowers, trees and green grass are not always a welcome sight to allergy sufferers.

Greater amounts of pollen and molds are the reason for the allergic reactions. Students might suffer from sneezing, watery eyes or minor wheezing, said NIU Health Service Director Rosemary Lane.

Although the term hay fever refers to fall allergies affecting the eyes and nose, it also refers to all seasonal effects, said DeKalb Clinic allergist Peter Baum. Changes in weather, humidity and barometric pressure are seasonal irritants, he said.

And the vast amount of farmland surrounding DeKalb makes the pollen count higher here, Baum said.

The many barriers of crowded cities block the blowing pollen, but the wide open spaces of DeKalb let pollen circulate, which can trigger allergic reactions.

Lane said the drug most often prescribed to students is Seldane, a non-drowsiness antihistimine. A 10-day supply of this drug costs $12.60 at the health center pharmacy.

Treatment depends on a student’s history of allergies and the particular symptoms, Lane said.

The two treatment options for spring allergies are medication or allergy shots, Baum said. Medication can be over-the-counter antihistimines or prescription nose sprays or non-sedating drugs. One advantage of prescription allergy medicine is that it does not cause drowsiness, Baum said.

Before a student can receive allergy shots, a series of skin tests to determine the causes of the allergies must be run.