News Education Sports Obits Events Contests Classifieds Autos Jobs Search

As the old saying goes, "Spring comes in like a lamb." Right beside that lamb is the emergence of trees, flowers beginning to blossom and the start to warmer weather.

These measures of beauty can unfortunately bring on a sea of allergies that could empty a tissue box in an afternoon.

Beth Volkart, Jefferson City Medical Group nurse practitioner, said the main culprit is all around us.

"Trees are really bad this time of year," Volkart said. "But some days, molds will be bad, and some days it'll be trees. Some days are just worse than others."

The effect of allergy attacks are known to be subjective from person to person, but there is another factor to allergies: location.

"Being in Missouri, we have a lot more allergens than most states," Volkart said. " I think they said last year that St. Louis was known as the allergy capital of the U.S. It's really because Missouri has a lot of trees.

"We're the Show-Me State: we'll show you our allergies."

One of the ways Volkart starts her day is to check her Weather Channel app on her phone. While the app shows the regular weather forecast, it also has a tab for health-related concerns. The tab shows the percentage of what plants and other allergens are producing the most pollen or other irritants, so users can know what to expect for the day.

"People already know what they're allergic to," she said. "Different people have different triggers, really. But for the runny noses, I always tell my patients to use an inter-nasal spray or saline rinses."

The best way to know for certain what one is allergic to, Volkart said, is to have an allergy test. This service is not available at the JCMG Clinic in California, but can be done at a specialist's office.

The science behind common allergies is fairly simple to understand.

"Mast cells or basal cells produce a histamine response, and that's what causes allergies," Volkart said. "That's why we have antihistamines to fix that response."

Of course allergic reactions to pollen involve a runny nose and itchy eyes. But sometimes, the reactions can lead to allergy-induced asthma, making the patient have extreme difficulty breathing.

There are a few simple ways to combat one of Missouri's biggest health concerns, Volkart said.

"If you have itchy eyes, I tell my patients to use over-the-counter eye drops," she said. "Re-wetting drops can help, too."

More active allergy sufferers who spend ample time outside may need to take a few breaks from gardening or farming to wash their noses and faces to prevent a later outbreak.

Volkart also said some furry companions can contribute to sinus annoyances.

"Sometimes pets can bring in pollen, too," she said. "But there have been studies that say if you've been around dogs and other animals when you're young, you'll have less allergies when you get older.

"All allergy testing and medicines are just giving you small doses of what you're allergic to, so you're not as allergic."

As many facets of life go, allergies vary from person to person. But the best way to stay comfortable and even enjoy those trees is to know what triggers allergies and face them accordingly.