Rod Dreher

Rod Dreher

The never-ending allergy season

Guess what? It’s still allergy season for me. Last week things seemed to be improving, but I woke up this morning hit hard with the stuff. When I’m like that, it’s hard to get out of bed, so I kept hitting the alarm this morning, and we ran out of time to get to our usual parish for Divine Liturgy. We went to a closer one, with a later liturgy, and I had to sit down for much of it. I was dizzy and felt like a scarecrow, as if my insides were made of straw. I couldn’t even last through the end of announcements before having to go home. Crawled into bed and slept for four hours this afternoon.
I tried a neti pot for a while, which helped with the congestion, but not with the chronic fatigue. Julie asked if I thought I had mono or anything, but I said no, I can always tell when I wake up in the morning congested, that it’s going to be a day of fatigue. One of my readers recommended taking a mushroom supplement from Vitamin Shoppe, which he said was the only thing that helped with his severe allergies. I couldn’t find a Vitamin Shoppe around here, but today I ordered some of the stuff from the store online. I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired. You ask: Idiot, why haven’t you gone to the doctor yet? My answer to you is: mostly because I don’t want to go through the hassle yet of finding a new physicial here (read: I’m lazy), but also because I really, really don’t want to become dependent on drugs to endure allergy season. I keep thinking, “One more week, and it’ll be over.” It’s been five or six weeks for me, and it never seems to end. Is it possible that these allergies can last all summer? If yes, I’m really going to have to get over it, and go find a doctor. But first, I’m going to give the mushroom supplement a try.

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posted May 30, 2010 at 7:39 pm

I wonder if, during allergy season, Rod has ever been in a computer “clean room” (something that’s rarer and rarer these days because of the robustness of the machines). Or alternatively, a room where the air has been filtered thoroughly.

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Brett R.

posted May 30, 2010 at 8:25 pm

Typical guy thing, isn’t it, to resist going to the doctor despite all signs pointing to its necessity? My wife has been wanting me to go to the doctor over my weird spring allergy thing.

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posted May 30, 2010 at 8:30 pm

You say you don’t want to become dependent on drugs, but in a previous post you mentioned “popping benadryls.” So I take it you are willing to try OTC drugs. Several people in that thread suggested loratadine (Claratin). Have you tried it yet? If not, I strongly suggest you do so. It’s what I use, and while it doesn’t completely eliminate my symptoms, it keeps them under control without any side effects.

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posted May 30, 2010 at 8:34 pm

Try a media and alcohol fast.

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Rod Dreher

posted May 30, 2010 at 8:59 pm

You’re right, I do pop Benadryls and Claritin over the counter. Them is drugs. I guess when I say “drugs,” I mean prescription drugs. I guess that’s a distinction without a difference.

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posted May 30, 2010 at 9:44 pm

This is a particularly nasty allergy season and there are late blooming trees flowering. Thank that mythical global warming. I used to take pill for two weeks in the spring, now I take them every day starting in March.
Get thee to a doctor! This self-medicating business is not working.

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posted May 30, 2010 at 9:45 pm

So I see you have tried Claritin, and it doesn’t help much. Man, that really sucks. You have my sympathies.

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posted May 30, 2010 at 10:16 pm

Rod: being treated by an allergist is not ‘becoming dependent on drugs’ as that statement is usually understood. When you’re with an allergist, you go in once a week to start, eventually once a month, and get injected. All over in 1 minute. I have been on shots for 20 years and I never have allergy symptoms, nor any side-effects from the shots (if that’s what you’re worried about). I would say, go ahead and find an allergist.

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James Pilant

posted May 30, 2010 at 11:15 pm

I have suffered with chronic sinusitis for more than twenty years. When I first I read your post I got all revved up figuring I would share all the things that had worked for me and explaining the ones that didn’t. But I thought about. I’m sorry you’re feeling bad and I understand the pain and lassitude, but I haven’t discovered any magical cures and from the other posts you appear to have many suggestions already. You do seem to have a great output in spite of your pain. For that you have my compliments! jp

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posted May 30, 2010 at 11:17 pm

Yes, your allergies absolutely can last all summer and fall. There are trees and grasses that will flower all summer and fall (ragweed is a particularly pesky and common late-summer allergen) and you could be allergic to any or all of them. I’ve had many years where I suffered with allergies right up through the first frost.
I now have adult-onset asthma because I didn’t address the allergies I’ve had for many years. Your nose actually protects your lungs, and when you allow allergies to go unchecked for years, your nose can no longer effectively do its job as the first line of defense of your respiratory system. Don’t be a stubborn fool. An allergist can help.
Captcha: come hearing

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lancelot lamar

posted May 30, 2010 at 11:28 pm

If you haven’t tried Nasonex or Flonase, you should. You spray them in each nostril a couple of times a day. It takes them a week or so to work, but they really, really do. And Flonase is now generic so you can get a month for 10 bucks or less.

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posted May 31, 2010 at 12:02 am

take heed Rod – you can get allergy induced asthma as you age if you don’t take care – are you using the Claritin you get from the druggist and have to sign for – that is much more effective than the stuff you can just pull off the shelf.
I understand your reluctance to use a prescription drugs – some of those allergy shots – which do work so well – include steroids which one does not want to take long term.
I’d bet a big part of the problem is that you are now in a new area and all this new stuff is setting you off. Watch out for autumn – when the leaves start falling and crumbling and the mold starts up.

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Brett R.

posted May 31, 2010 at 1:07 am

Cecilia brings up a good point– I am reminded of a weekend vacation I took with a couple of friends to Phoenix for baseball spring training. As soon as I got there, I had the most horrible allergic reaction to the place. I was sneezing and weezing, watery eyes, congestion, the whole bit, the entire time I was down there. It was really weird. The desert is where you’re supposed to go to when you have allergies! As soon as the plane landed back in Chicago, though, all my symptoms disappeared. I guess I’m organically acclimated to the midwest ;^).

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posted May 31, 2010 at 8:26 am

Hi Rod,
Get thee to Cabo San Lucas! And that right quickly!
Out here in San Jose, I had horrendously godawful allergies that cranked up their intensity starting about a month before Pascha. I had been taking Loratadine but it wasn’t enough. I started taking Flonase and Zyrtek. But it didn’t really help me. I think next year I need to stay ahead of the allergy curve instead of playing catch-up.
What really ended up helping me is going to Cabo San Lucas for 7 days.
My allergies subsided after a day or two, but I wisely stayed on my meds. When we got back to California, I’ve been fine ever since, despite the continued high pollen count, heavy rains, and so on.
The change of scenery really helped! Coronas on the beach, toes in sand, didn’t hurt either.

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posted May 31, 2010 at 9:02 am

Rod, I am the same way about going to the doctor and getting allergy meds .. but can I warn you that the chronic sinus congestion can frequently lead to NASTY sinus infection requiring nasty antibiotics. Nassssty meds, we hates them, precious, but they makes us able to function during spring and fall.
After suffering horribly for a few weeks I finally made the call to the doctor and got a prescription for Flonase. That stuff is amazing.
The other advice I have is to start the meds BEFORE at the first hint of allergy symptoms. Easier to stop it in its tracks than to try to make a full-fledged attack subside.

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posted May 31, 2010 at 9:25 am

how is the air quality in PA? I know here in Dallas when we get to orange levels and above, my ‘allergies’ kick in much worse than during pollen season. I put allergies in quotes because I’m not sure it’s allergies so much as my body rejecting polluted air (as opposed to natural pollen).

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posted May 31, 2010 at 1:38 pm

You should quit messing with that and consider drugs AND shots. That immune system of yours is going to wear you down to a nub of your former self otherwise. The only relief you will get from “allergy season” is in the dead of winter after several days of hard freeze. That’s assuming you don’t have indoor allergies. Your’re a historian, so let’s cast this in those terms: Don’t risk the Neville Chamberlain strategy. You’re trying to reason with an unreasonable enemy…

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posted June 1, 2010 at 12:06 am

When I lived in Dallas I had spring and fall sinusitis which developed into bronchitis. This went on for years. A chiroprator I worked with recommended megadose fish oil, (1500mg twice a day.) I have not had any problems since. Even after I moved to KY which is much more florid.
Joy, Brad

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B. Minich

posted June 1, 2010 at 10:37 am

It seems that algeries in the mid-atlantic area are bad this year. I’ve had low grade itchy eyes for weeks now in Maryland, and this never usually happens into May. I think Philly is in the same region weather and plant wise, for the most part.

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Nanci Schwartz

posted June 3, 2010 at 2:30 pm

I never suffered from allergies until I moved to Central Florida. The pollen from all of the oaks is brutal and it’s absolutely true that the season is longer. My allergist says it’s critical that you immediately change your clothes after being outside for a long period of time. And be sure to wash your clothes, too. Pollen gets into the threads. Think about how green pollen sticks to cars, benches, window sills, etc. That stuff is also on your body after you’ve been outside. His theory explained why I kept sneezing after hugging and loving on our dog who likes to sit in the front yard.

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posted July 12, 2010 at 1:05 pm

I have bad seasonal allergies, too. Most years the tree pollen gets me, but this year grass is hitting me really hard! I don’t have a solution to offer, but I can say that removing certain foods from my diet has reduced the severity of my symptoms (less inflammation, less mucus, less fatigue, and less haze). I found out using a blood test that i have IGE and IGG immune system responses to some foods (wheat, cow diary, and soy). When I am not eating these foods my allergies are significantly lessened. Good luck with your allergies! I hear from lots of people that 2010 is particularly bad.

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