Health Watch: Allergy season makes it’s way to Fairbanks

Updated: May. 26, 2021 at 5:29 PM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - As plants bloom and pollen fills the air, allergy season is in full swing in Fairbanks. Since 1984, the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) has declared May to be “National Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month” to educate people about these afflictions.

Dr. Anthony Bonitatibus, Tanana Valley Clinic Allergist spoke about what makes seasonal allergies so bad in Fairbanks, and some treatment options for those looking to enjoy an allergy free spring, explaining, “This time of year is our worst time of year, especially here in Fairbanks. It is primarily the birch pollen in the spring, But there’s some sort of invisible dome that’s created over Fairbanks that seems to trap stuff in. It’s got notoriously the highest pollen counts, probably in the world, and it’s primarily birch pollen when its at its peak.”

The symptoms of seasonal allergic rhinitis, or hay fever, include nasal congestion, runny nose, and sneezing, along with itching, watering and redness in the eyes.

Bonitatibus continued, “If you want to go see an allergist, I think it never hurts to know who your enemies are. What are you sensitized to? I think that builds the foundation of every plan in our allergy clinic - what are you allergic to and how can you avoid it? How can you reduce it’s effects?”

While the primary method of reducing allergy symptoms is minimizing exposure to allergens, many allergy treatment options exist including nasal steroid sprays and over the counter prescriptions like long acting antihistamines.

“People sometime just get used to it or put up with it, And there’s a variety of ways to approach it. Again, know what you’re allergic to, understand the options as far as medications, and then some people opt for the desensitization. We can make you not allergic to birch trees, and it’s a very natural process. So don’t just put up with it, treat it,” Bonitatibus said.

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