Friday Question of the Day – Do You Have Allergies? Are they Particularly Bad this Year?

by Prince Of Petworth April 7, 2016 at 10:22 pm 41 Comments

Photo by PoPville flickr user Joe Flood

Here’s a random one that I’m just curious about because I’m getting absolutely thrashed this year (despite the drastic up and down temps.) So who else suffers from seasonal allergies? Are you also getting hit particularly bad this year? Any remedies beyond pharmaceuticals and neti pots?

  • Mike

    I’ve had terrible spring allergies my entire adult life — really since I was a teenager. I started taking a probiotic called VSL#3 about two weeks ago and I haven’t had a single allergy symptom since.

    I should say that I didn’t start taking it for allergies, and I’m not one for hippie-dippy solutions to medical problems. That said, I’m kind of stunned by how quickly this stuff changed things for me. It’s kind of expensive, but well worth it, in my opinion. No more Claritin. No more sneezing. I’m actually enjoying spring for once.

    And there is science behind it. You cab look it up. VSL #3. Changed my life.

  • Blithe

    I’ve had spring allergies for about 5 or six years. The first year, supposedly, was a bad year, when people who had never had allergy symptoms before were getting them. Then the second year, they said the same thing. Yeah, that seems to be the trend. Anyway, for me this is my worst year so far because Claritin and Allegra no longer work their magic and Zyrtec makes me sleepy. I was having some success with a homeopathic treatment: Boiron Sabadil tablets. They worked quite well with my more troublesome symptoms but I stopped taking them when I got a cold on top of the allergies, and went a more traditional route for symptom management.
    . I DID finally get brave enough to try a nasal rinse. So far I’m underwhelmed — but at least I managed to do it without drowning myself, so that’s something.

    • houseintherear

      Same story for me. Adult onset allergies, I call it. I suggest Flonase- it has changed my life.

  • JoDa

    I usually get hit hard in the spring, but have kept my humidifier “on” with the humidistat set to 50%, despite the warmer temps early/recently, and they haven’t been bad at home. OUTSIDE of home is a different story. Today I left home feeling fine in the morning, and halfway through an unusually long commute owing to going to a remote (but still “Metro accessible”) office for service, started *sneezing my head off* to the point that people were asking me if I was okay on the Metro and full-on crying by the time I got off. It might have been that someone “wearing” an allergen got near me on the Metro, but at the time I started sneezing my head off and tearing up, no one was sitting next to/near me, and I didn’t smell any triggers before that (I can usually stand being around someone with cat hair on them for a short time, but choke at “musky” perfumes or colognes, when strong). Popping an allergy pill killed it, but the timing *did* seem odd and more related to general pollen/pollution levels than any specific trigger.
    Hilariously, I didn’t end up seeing my kale because I thought we were going to have a warm spring and thought it would be ruined by the time I got around to *maybe* doing it the second week of March (when it was, you know, almost 80). And now it would be getting the cold, wet, and maybe even snowy environment it wants. AND I want it to be a little warmer to seed spring veggies outdoors…

  • LittleMillet

    I used to have the WORST allergies in the spring. I’m allergic to most trees, grass, etc. Last year I was taking waaaay more than the recommended doses of multiple types of medications, and still had no relief. I visited an allergist and have been getting allergy shots and it has been life changing (sorry for sounding like an allergy shot evangelist, but seriously, my springtime quality of life has drastically improved). Every so often I’ll have a few mild symptoms, but otherwise I have been fine. Instead of constantly trying different medications and seeing no relief, I think I’ve taken an antihistamine maybe four time this entire season so far.

    Allergy shots take a lot of time commitment (and money, depending on your insurance), so they may not be for everyone. But for me, getting shots in my arms has been a better experience than suffering through springtime pollen hell.

    • anon

      Best part of allergy shots is you are building immunity. I got them weekly for 5 years when I was a teen, since since then barely any issues.

    • K

      I came to the comments to say the same thing. I got to Doctor Rohatgi (http://www.yelp.com/biz/nirupma-b-rohatgi-md-washington) and allergy shots have changed my life. Doctor Rohatgi does a great job of looking at environmental triggers to allergies before encouraging you to invest in shots, which I liked. I ended up going the shots route and it’s improved my quality of life immensely.

    • Formerly Weepy/Runny/Itchy

      My allergies used to be so bad that I took medicine from St Patrick’s Day until the first frost. About 5 years ago I did the allergy shots thing….LIFE CHANGING. I stopped the shots maybe 2 years ago and I only need medicine for a few weeks in the spring (Flonase is helping this year). I could count on at least 2 sinus infections a year (Spring allergies and Fall allergies), and now it’s one or ZERO a year.

      My allergist/ENT said that my response was sadly NOT typical, but if you are a long time sufferer and not afraid of needles/shots (AND, especially if your insurance covers it 100% which mine did), I say it is worth giving it a go. I saw Dr. Vap (http://www.entmedical.com/home.html) – 2021 K St NW.

    • AsianNotRegular

      I am definitely an allergy shot evangelist! My allergy shots changed my life — every spring and fall I was a miserable person. Anytime there was beautiful weather, I was sneezy, itchy, snotty, and would get tension headaches and sometimes asthma! I started getting allergy shots in 2011, and within a few months they were gone! I’m still on maintenance (only once a month) and I haven’t had allergies in the DC area since! I do have allergies when I travel, and it’s a harsh reminder of what life used to be like.

    • exiled in arlington

      Can you get allergy shots if you DON’T test positive on the skin prick test? I’ve been tested previously, and came out crystal clear. But tree pollen in the spring and rag weed in the fall, as well as mold year round, always do a number on me. A few years back, I was told I couldn’t do shots, since I came up clear on the skin prick test, so they couldn’t be sure exactly what to inject. I’m wondering if anything’s changed – I am massively suffering right now.

      • AsianNotRegualr

        My doctor (GW Medical Faculty Associates) did two rounds of tests. First they did the regular skin prick test, and the ones that I didn’t test positive for, they did a heavier dose of allergens to see if it wasn’t enough the first time. The second time I tested positive for almost everything except for a certain type of grass, cockroaches, and something else. It was crazy, and I felt my heart racing afterwards, and my doctor said it was because I was having like 30 allergic reactions at once.

  • Anonymous

    My allergies are pretty bad this year. I’ve been stuffy for weeks.

    • stacksp


  • phl2dc

    I’ve had horrible spring allergies for as long as I can remember. Back in elementary school and middle school, it was so bad I’d get nose bleeds. I’d rub my eyes so much that my classmates called me Terminator due to the redness. I never took anything for it until college; not sure why. Allegra D changed my life one year, but I haven’t used it since. Now I take regular Allegra and use a nasal spray… It’s 99% under control. Heaps better than waking up not being able to breathe with puffy weepy red eyes.

    • AdmsMgn

      +1 Your story is the exact same as mine. Zyrtec changed my life! Now that it’s generic, I take Citirizine which can be purchased at Costco (even if you don’t have a membership – they charge a small fee). A year supply costs about $20. I also take Nasonex. I no longer dread April – June.

  • I Dont Get It

    Yes. No.

    • Same here. Have ’em, some years they’re awful, this year no. Odd because I don’t take anything and only do an occasional Neti-pot cleanse.

  • LittleBluePenguin

    I have had terrible allergies since I was in grade school – I can remember going to the emergency room once because they thought maybe I had pneumonia, but nope. Seasonal allergies. I am allergic to a massive number of trees, weeds, grasses, and have related food sensitivities (can’t handle raw carrots without my hands turning red and super itchy and getting welts). When Claritin first came out, it was awesome – didn’t entirely eliminate things but made them much more bearable. And then, maybe 8-10 years later, boom. It stopped working. I took Flonase for a while, but it gave me nosebleeds and the steroids in it gave me palpitations. So steroid nasal sprays are a no-go. Zyrtec worked for a while, and then, not so much. I talked with my pcp last year, and she suggested I try taking Zyrtec 2x day, and throwing an Allegra in there when needed. Helped a lot, but not completely. So yeah, I take two zyrtec every day year round, occasionally take allegra or benadryl, and still have yet to find the solution to my allergies that get worse every year. I’m taking note of everyone’s experiences/recommendations, so keep ’em coming.

    • NotaDoctor

      For the food sensitivities I would throw in a H2 blocker like zantac or pepcid ac 2x a day with your zrytec and see how you feel. Not a doctor, just a suggestion, but I bet it would help. You could have mast cell activation syndrome, which basically makes your allergies worse and can trigger allergies to funny things.

      • exiled in arlington

        What doctor do you see to evaluate whether you have mast cell activation syndrome? I have a long history of just about every annoying condition – osteoporosis, gluten and dairy sensitivity, bad spring and fall allergies, migraines, cold all the time, raynauds, asthma. All are somewhat (imperfectly) managed by lifestyle and medication. I’ve always suspected that there had to be something in common for all of them, but so far nothing’s come up.

        (at least I haven’t been formally diagnosed as a hypochondriac yet…. :))

        I’m obviously not going to diagnose myself via the internet or Popville, but I’m thinking this is one more thing to ask about at some point. And I’m wondering whom I would see about it.

      • Anonamom

        I know I’m late to this and you probably won’t see it, but the Pepcid is a great thing if your body is producing too much IgE (usually the case with chronic, severe allergies or food allergies). With my allergy issues (pork and something as yet unknown that causes anaphylaxis), the first defense per my allergist is a Benadryl and a Pepcid. Both together can counter act a reaction. Also, the time I did go into anaphylaxis, they gave me super steroids, Benadryl, and IV Pepcid which together almost immediately provided relief. Middle Anonachild’s allergist suggested adding more probiotics to her diet which would help with over production of IgE in her gut (she has severe environmental allergies), and that combined with daily Zyrtec, Flonase, and her steroid creams have turned her into a happy and relativey symptom free child when previously she very much was not.

  • ET

    Many years ago someone told me that if didn’t have allergies before moving to the DC area, that you would end of with them eventually. I have been here since 1992 and haven’t gotten them yet but I will say some years even I sneezed and had a stuffy nose. I haven’t noticed anything this year so far.

  • jim_ed

    Yes and Yes. Usually Zyrtec keeps things manageable, but this year I’ve been a disgusting mess of sneezing and watery eyes every day since basically the beginning of march. Tree pollen is the devil.

  • MtP

    Never had allergies until moving to DC 7 years ago. Now I get them every year from about mid-March until early June. I have actually found this year to be not as bad as previous years. Some years even Claritin would not be enough.

  • mtpresident

    I used to get spring & fall allergies, but somehow stopped reacting to the pollen, etc when I was pregnant with my daughter. And it’s carried over. I’ve had mild periodic allergy symptoms this spring, so I guess that’s worse than the new baseline?

  • Anonamom

    In my house, we all have allergies. I can say, that this has actually been the best year for allergies (so far) in recent memory. That first week when you realize you need to start meds is always crappy and always feels like the worst one ever, but really, it hasn’t been bad – yet.

  • domrep

    I feel like I have them all year around, I get headaches maybe 2-3 times a week, some of them turn into migraines if I don’t take something in time. It’s especially bad when Winter is turning into Spring and Summer is turning into Fall. But this year is just bad, holy shit. I’ve never had the itchy eyes but I’ve had them from time to time this year.

  • Emmaleigh504

    Nasocort has been a life changer for me. No more allergy symptoms!

    • Olivia

      Ditto! I’ve found it much more effective than Allegra and Claritin. If my allergies are really bad I take a Benadryl before bed.

  • BRP

    I got that really horrible week-long cold that was going around *right* at the peak of my allergy season (I get them early in the spring) so… on the bright side, I wasn’t miserable for longer? But I was definitely more miserable than usual. Sorry, husband and colleagues.

  • hammers

    Mine are in the fall. Usually not bad at all, resembling a cold for about a week, but last year they were so bad I had to get an inhaler because my lungs weren’t filling properly. Never had any allergies until I moved here, and even still, I’d say they are pretty low (little-to-no sneezy wheezy stuff). But people in my office sound like death….ugh.

    • hammers

      oh and regarding non-pharm/neti remedies- my massage therapist claims she can help with allergies. Don’t know if it’s true, but it’s worth a shot. When I had an ear jaw issue once, she slapped on gloves and worked from inside my mouth.

  • navyard

    I do get minor seasonal allergies, but haven’t had any yet this year. Whatever I’m allergic to must not be in season yet. And I’ve been all over the tidal basin and the mall and sniffing flowers, so I’m doing everything the same.

  • ACin DC

    I only started having super bad seasonal allergies when I moved to DC 10 years ago. Last year was particularly bad for me but so far this year I have been okay. I put this down to the fact that I’m pretty aggressive about dealing with my allergies no – I dont have my windows open and I run an air purifier in my bedroom every night. I also wash my face and hands as soon as I get home. I change into different clothes and so I’m not sitting around in garments that may have gathered pollen on them. All of this has helped me a lot. I used to suffer so badly but this is all advice I got from an ear nose and throat specialist that I saw when my suffering was at it’s worst.

  • ke

    Mine have been terrible this spring too. Nasonex has been the only med that works. Claritin was useless for some reason. Interesting info about the probiotic.

  • Clueless

    I didn’t really struggle with allergies until literally this week. My head has never felt bigger from all this congestion. And my runny nose is really attractive.

  • John M

    Until this year I had horrible, miserable seasonal allergies – like I’d get a sinus infection at the first sign of spring. It wasn’t until last year, when I started taking allergy shots that I actually started to notice an improvement. Highly recommend getting the shots and regularly taking antihistamines if you have issues with allergies. Any other gimmicks (supplements, “local” honey, homeopathy) are just a waste of money.

  • When my wife and I moved to DC, many years ago, we had allergy problems every spring. Then, in time, we got over them. I presume it’s because our bodies got used to the springtime stuff in the air here. Now, hardly a sniffle!

  • RL

    Shots! Shots! Shots!
    Like others have said, it’s really the way to go if your allergies are severe enough and/or you don’t have an aversion to needles. I started getting shots four or five years ago when we had such a super-mild winter that spring arrived in February. Allergies kicked my butt so badly I even lost my voice several times before summer, and again in the fall (ragweed).
    Fast forward to the fall of 2014 when my friend complained about it being ragweed season and I hadn’t even noticed! My allergies flared up a bit early this spring, but have since settled down (I take a daily antihistamine year-round). Considering I actually haven’t gotten shots since July (when my allergist sold her practice), I’ve been very pleasantly surprised this year.
    (Of course, considering I also have allergy-induced asthma and it’s now mowing season, I should really restart my shots. Anyone have a good allergist near Foggy Bottom or downtown?)


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