Boy, allergies are awful. Do you ever wish you could hide in the bathroom when you’re on the verge of your umpteenth sneezing fit of the day? You simply can’t stop sneezing! A heck of a predicament when you’re in the middle of a job interview or sitting on an examining table in front of your doctor and nurse. Yet allergies have been with us forever.

A southern California allergist and immunologist, Dr. Joshua Davidson, has made a career of seeing patients who sneeze and rub their eyes. Davidson, who has a private practice in Torrance and is an expert for, says he wanted to be a physician from a very young age. His residency involved pediatrics, but he soon developed an interest in treating allergies. Having suffered allergies and asthma himself, David felt he had a unique perspective.

If you’ve been following the news, you’ve read that this has been a particularly bad year for allergies. “What makes this season worse than others in the past was the degree of precipitation many parts of the country received in the winter, prior to the spring,” says Davidson, in an interview with Men and Health: It’s a Guy Thing. “The precipitation level almost directly correlates with how severe an allergy season will be, because it’s basically the fuel for the fire.”

The Pacific Northwest is one of the worst, if not the worst, part of the country for allergies, notes Davidson. Other rough spots include the Northeast and the South, because of their high levels of humidity. Allergy sufferers may find relief in dry, arid regions, such as Arizona.

There are a variety of allergies. Indoor allergens are year-round, caused in part by pet dander and dust mites. In the outdoors, grass pollen levels start to peak in May and June. Trees cause allergies a bit earlier, in April and May. After a brief break, weed and mold levels come up in August and September. Davidson says exact times vary across the country.

Do you ever wonder why some people grow out of their allergies as they get older, yet others experience the reverse? There’s no answer, according to Davidson. One factor to consider is exposure. “Sometimes I’ve seen people who have lived their whole lives in one area, and outgrown their allergies….then move to an area with different allergens, and BAM, they have allergies again because their bodies haven’t become tolerant.”

You may have childhood memories of going to the doctor’s office for an allergy shot. According to Davidson, there are several treatment options. First-line treatments include antihistamines. If these don’t work, there are targeted treatments, which include eye drops and nasal sprays; the sprays help relieve congestion and itching. If those treatments fail, allergy shots are available. Shots, says Davidson, can produce a change in the body so symptoms won’t appear for decades. “To me that’s a wonderful option. Of course it’s a difficult option because it requires a commitment of time.”

Allergies can impact work and school productivity. “In terms of quality of life studies, where they’re measuring how certain illnesses will affect one’s daily quality of life, allergies and asthma are usually near the top of the list,” says Davidson. “In the allergy season, you’re seeing kids missing school, and your definitely seeing adults missing work….it’s something that affects you throughout the day; it’s often worse in the morning when people are getting ready to go to work.”

How can you guard against allergies? Davidson suggests that you shut your windows when pollen counts are high. Also, dry your clothes indoors; clothes can collect pollen if dried outdoors. Take a shower at night because pollen accumulates on your hair, skin and clothing. Learn about pollen levels and find out what time of year you may be at risk for getting allergies.

In case you’re wondering if there’s a connection between allergies and asthma, Davidson says, “The numbers show that about 80 percent or so of asthma is tied to allergies….for the vast majority of people, the two often go hand in hand…when allergies get worse, asthma follows suit.”

Help is available for the sufferer who can’t survive the day without going through a bucket of tissue. Get tested for allergies, says Davidson. Your primary care physician can get the ball rolling. “They can get blood work and make a referral, if necessary.”

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