Carol Sibley: Students should try to reduce exposure to allergens

By Hailey Kurth

Carol Sibley, coordinator of preventive medicine at Health Services

Sibley said some people don’t seem to have allergies at all, while some can have mild allergies. “And others, usually the ones we see doing allergy shots, they’re just miserable at certain times for weeks upon end.”

Common Symptoms: Itchy eyes, sneezing, itchy nose, runny nose, post-nasal drip. Sometimes students wake up in the morning with a sore throat from stuff draining from the back of their nose all night.

For some people, asthma can be triggered by allergies.

“The first thing is to try to determine what triggers the symptoms,” Sibley said. “That takes some time and investigation on your part.”

Students can go to an allergist to be tested if necessary, Sibley said.

Some things people are allergic to: animals, freshly-cut grass, pollens, mold or mildew.

“Carpets can hold a lot of things that trigger allergies like dust or danders from pets,” Sibley said.

Hardwood floors are better for allergies. Students should clean them often with mops. She said dampness picks up dust better than just dusting.

Sibley said students with dust-related allergies should stay away from dust-gathering items like throw pillows or heavy curtains.

If students have outside allergens, they are better off sleeping with their window shut and using air conditioning, Sibley said.

Sibley said when students discover their allergen, they should try to reduce their exposure. For example, if they’re symptoms appear while the grass is being cut, don’t go outside when someone’s mowing.

Wind can blow a lot of pollen around, Sibley said, which can be tough in DeKalb because we have a lot of windy days. Sibley suggested taking the bus or wearing glasses on these days to avoid the wind as much as possible.


There is over the counter medication for allergies, but Sibley said they can effect people differently. Sibly said, “Somebody says, ‘Oh, I take this and it works wonderful,’ and somebody else might take it and it doesn’t work for them or makes them too tired.”

Sibley said Neti pots used for sinus problems may end up pushing allergens up more instead of helping.

Students can discuss their symptoms with a doctor or pharmacist to get their recommendations, Sibley said.

Health services do not do allergy testing, but can provide allergy shots if prescribed by a student’s allergist, Sibley said. She said the shots contain minute doses of what the patient is allergic to, in hopes of desensitizing their immune system.

“They don’t get the itchy eyes and nose and runny nose near as bad,” Sibley said.

WebMD facts & statistics:

55 percent of the U.S. population tests positive for one or more allergen.

Allergies cost the U.S. healthcare system and businesses an estimated $7.9 billion dollars annually.

Ragweed and pollen season has increased by four weeks over the last 10 to 15 years.

Children have a 33 percent chance of developing allergies if a parent has them; their chances increase to 70 percent if both parents have allergies.

100 percent of all U.S. households have detectable levels of dog and cat dander.

Each year there are 30,000 ER visits in the U.S. caused by food allergies.

Up to 15 percent of people in the U.S. believe they have a food allergy. Only 3 to 4 percent of people in the U.S. actually do.

Number of workdays lost each year as a result of hay fever: 4 million.