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Allergy Season: A Q&A with Russell Settipane, MD

4/23/2014

Woman with TissueSpring has been short so far, but allergy season is in full swing. Russell Settipane, MD, an allergist at Rhode Island Hospital, tells us what we can expect this season, and what we can do about it.

Does an extra cold winter make spring allergies worse?

It’s going to be a bad season for allergies and asthma. We are already seeing patients who are severely suffering with nasal, ocular and chest symptoms. But, no, the cold winter isn’t to blame for a difficult allergy season.

>With the nice weather, most people want to open their windows – is there anything they can do to still enjoy the fresh air/sunshine without filling their house will allergens/pollen?

Unfortunately, people who are allergic to outdoor pollens should not be opening their windows and letting the pollen into their homes. In hot weather, they should run air conditioning and be sure to replace air filters.

If you suffer from seasonal allergies, are you doomed from now until fall?

No, you’re not doomed, but you should act quickly. The best thing to do is to get on the best treatment possible before the season really gets going. If you suffered last year, call your allergist now to make an appointment before the pollen really gets heavy. Starting use of a nasal steroid spray early will keep the allergic inflammation from escalating to uncontrollable levels. Also, the newest option which the FDA has just approved is a grass pollen tablet. This new form of oral allergy desensitization has helped to prevent and treat grass pollen allergy.

How do you test for allergies?

We traditionally skin test to determine allergic sensitization. The test is called the "skin prick test," which replaced the old-fashioned "scratch test.” This form of testing uses a small plastic prick device and is very effective for allergy testing the full age range, from infants to adults. It is important to get tested to determine the best treatment plan. Knowing which allergens are the cause and when they are expected to occur each year allows for the design and implementation of an optimally effective approach.

For more information or to contact Russell Settipane, MD, please call 401-331-8426.