HCN News & Notes

Local Doctors Anticipate Shorter, Yet Intense Allergy Season

WEST SPRINGFIELD — AFC Doctors Express, the largest independent urgent-care provider in the Commonwealth, announced that the long winter conditions this year may call for a shorter, yet more intense spring allergy season.

Earlier this month, the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA), a national nonprofit organization dedicated to fighting asthma and allergic diseases, released its annual “Spring Allergy Capitals” report, which ranked Springfield 26th out of 100 U.S. cities on its list of “Most Challenging Places to Live with Spring Allergies.” Spring is typically one of the busiest times of the year for healthcare facilities because influenza and the norovirus are still at peak levels and allergy season is in full swing.

“Even though we still have snow on the ground, trees have started to bud, which produces pollen that cause allergies,” said Dr. Marie Vitale, who practices at AFC Doctors Express in West Springfield. “Typically, allergy symptoms manifest quickly, but they are often not considered severe enough to keep people away from work or school.”

According to a recent AAFA survey, patients who sought treatment from a physician for their allergies reported a higher rate of satisfaction compared to those patients who used over-the-counter remedies to combat allergies. The physicians at AFC Doctors Express have provided some tips to keep Western Mass. residents feeling healthy throughout allergy season:

• If you experience allergy symptoms, be proactive and see a physician as soon as possible to discuss treatment options.

• Change your clothes and consider showering before going to bed at night, as many allergens adhere to clothing and hair throughout the day.

• Similarly, if you have longer hair, consider wearing a hat or tie your hair back away from your face.

• Although it might be tempting to open windows, keep them closed to reduce pollen and mold from contaminating your home, office, or vehicle.

• Use an air conditioner if necessary.

• Track allergen levels in the environment before leaving your home every day, to proactively treat symptoms or avoid the outdoors on days where pollen and mold counts are highest.

“Although there are a number of over-the-counter medications available for allergy sufferers, they really can’t manage allergies without a physician who can identify triggers and conduct proper testing,” Vitale said. “Spring is when most patients experience their worst seasonal allergy symptoms; now is the time to visit with a physician for immediate, personalized treatments.”

For more information about services offered by AFC Doctors Express, visit doctorsexpressspringfield.com.

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