Surviving Allergy Season in Wichita
Wichita’s got plenty of pollen to thank for securing its place as the sixth most challenging place in the United States to live with seasonal allergies.
In the spring of 2016, the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America compiled a list of U.S. cities with the worst allergies, and sure enough, Wichitans sneezed their way to the top ten. Wichita was preceded by Jackson, MS., Memphis, TN., Syracuse, NY., Louisville, KY., and McAllen, TX.
What Makes Wichita Susceptible
Allergies occur when the immune system is exposed to an allergen that may be a potential threat to the body and frequent exposure to allergens increases our chances of developing allergies to these substances. Growing up in an area, like Wichita, that puts you at an increased risk to allergen exposure and living in that place throughout your adult life further increases the risk to develop an allergy.
“The areas at highest risk for seasonal allergies are those with weather conditions that are warm, dry and windy and climates with little or no rain,” said Ben Dandurand of Wichita’s Dandurand Drugstore. “Seasonal allergies are directly related to the level of pollen in the air. Based on reported pollen levels per region, Wichita falls into one of the highest pollen level regions in the country.”
The biggest contributor to allergies in Wichita, pollen affects 81 percent of Wichitans who cite it as the cause of their allergies. Pollens are created by various types of trees, grasses and weeds which are picked up and carried by the wind, making Wichita a prime location for allergies to develop.
“The largest contributing factor to Wichita’s high susceptibility for bad seasonal allergies is likely the amount of wind bringing in allergens from the surrounding areas,” Dandurand said.
Dandurand added that if you’re experiencing allergens outside of springtime, it’s because different pollen producing plants can cause allergies during different seasons. The most common spring blooming plants associated with pollen allergies are birch, oak, hickory, pecan and even some grasses. Late summer and fall allergies are usually associated with ragweed. The most common pollen producing plants known to cause allergies are trees (Birch, Alder, Cedar, Hazelnut, Willow, Plane, Olive and Hornbeam); grasses (Ryegrass, Timothy); and weeds (Ragweed, Nettle, Mugwort, Goosefoot and Sorrel.)
Allergy Symptoms and Treatment
“The allergy that is actually caused by pollen is called hay fever,” Dandurand said. “It affects the sinuses and respiratory tract of those with the allergy. Common symptoms of hay fever include watery eyes, runny nose, rhinitis (stuffy nose or inflammation in nasal passages,) sore throat, coughing, increased mucous, headaches and asthma.”
If you notice these symptoms, Dandurand says the first step is to find an over-the-counter medication to help lessen your symptoms. Another important step is to see an allergist to determine the cause of your allergies.
“The three main treatments for allergies are avoidance of the allergen, medication and immunotherapy,” Dandurand said. “Since avoidance to something like airborne allergens at all times is nearly impossible and impractical, medication is usually the most reasonable and easiest treatment to access. However, avoidance does still play an important role. Knowing exactly what you are allergic to, and watching for peaks of that allergen during its heaviest season can help you prepare accordingly.”
If you suffer from allergies, preparing could mean avoiding extended periods of outdoor activities and being sure to take your allergy medication. If these steps are not enough, immunotherapy may be in order. This involves an allergist finding the exact substance causing the allergy and introducing it to the immune system in small doses over time to help build up a tolerance to the substance. This type of treatment is typically reserved for severe cases, in which symptoms are intolerable or potentially life-threatening. However, seeing an allergist is also a next step for those who are unable to control their symptoms with over-the-counter medication, children of parents with severe allergies and children with severe asthma.
What Works in Wichita
“The most effective allergy prevention/treatment methods for Wichita that I have personally seen involve immunotherapy,” Dandurand said.” There are certain herbal remedies that can be taken to desensitize your immune response to a specific allergen, and we’ve seen a lot of people see great results with these treatments.” Some such treatments involve the help of a doctor or allergist to either administer treatments or provide a prescription for the treatment to be filled at a pharmacy.
Dandurand noted that other treatments that generally see the best response are inhaled corticosteroids like Flonase nasal spray, or Nasacort.
“The most effective oral medication for allergy prevention/treatment is an herbal remedy we also carry, and is only available at specialty pharmacies like ourselves or doctors’ offices,” Dandurand said.
The most effective treatments for uncomfortable symptoms caused by seasonal allergies after they have already exceeded tolerability would be any of your combination medications contain both Sudafed and an anti-histamine (i.e. Mucinex, Mucinex-D, Congestac, Claritin-D or Zyrtec-D.)
It’s important to note that a healthcare professional should be consulted before starting any new medication. Not all medications are safe for everyone. Children should be especially careful when starting new medications along with the elderly (greater than or equal to 65 years old.) Also, if you have pre-existing health conditions like diabetes, heart disease, vascular disease, neurologic conditions, or pulmonary disease then it’s especially important to consult a healthcare professional to make sure any new medication, prescription or over the counter, is safe for you to take.
Dandurand Drugstore has three locations in Wichita at 7732 E. Central Avenue, 800 N. Carriage Parkway and 2233 N. Ridge Road.
Dandurand is a family-owned compounding pharmacy, retail pharmacy and boutique, specializing in unique gifts and home decor. Serving the Wichita area for more than 30 years, Dandurand offers over-the-counter medications, fills pharmacy prescriptions and provides custom compounding services. For more than 11 years, Dandurand has also offered a long-term care pharmacy for care facilities and their patients, forming countless lasting relationships with members of the community.
Gifts and collectibles for every occasion are available in the boutique, which features a hand-picked selection of the finest products available.