allergy season

Your Health, Primary Care

The Allergy Facts You Need Right Now

Stress, age, environment – all these things can affect your seasonal allergies. We’re here to help you manage your allergy symptoms. See what one Atrium Health specialist says about allergies and how to treat them.

Atrium Health is here to provide care for and management of chronic illnesses, such as seasonal allergies. Spring allergies can be especially tough in the Carolinas – and the entire Southeast, really – thanks to all the trees and our region’s mild climate. Depending on the weather, our worst spring allergy symptoms can hit as early as February and stick around as late as June. If you get allergies every spring, you already know the basics, like nagging symptoms and over-the-counter antihistamines. We chatted with Alekh Gupta, MD, an allergist at Atrium Health Allergy, Asthma & Immunology - SouthPark for some fresh tips on allergies and how to treat them.

Question 1: The weather is so nice. Can allergy sufferers still enjoy the outdoors?

Answer 1 | Dr. Gupta: Absolutely. Just stay aware of the weather, as well as your allergies and symptoms. Avoid being outdoors in the morning when the pollen count is highest in the air. It’s especially important to physically remove pollen after spending time outside, so be sure to shower, change your clothes and avoid wearing shoes in the house. Definitely keep an eye on the pollen count to know what days would be best spent indoors – especially if you have lots of trouble with allergies or have a condition like asthma that can be triggered from environmental allergies. And when you’re inside, keep windows closed so pollen can’t come indoors.

Q2: There are several trendy allergy treatments out there. Can things like honey actually help relieve symptoms?

A2 | Dr. Gupta: There’s no concrete evidence that honey is helpful for everyone, but some people do report its benefits. One of the difficulties with knowing whether honey is helpful or not is that the actual pollen in honey is from flowers, which we’re not typically allergic to. Also, the amount of pollen in each serving of honey varies, so it’s difficult to know how much to take and how often.

Q3: What might be a sign it’s time to see a doctor about our allergies?

A3 | Dr. Gupta: If allergies aren’t managed with over-the-counter medications, you might want to see a doctor. You also might want to get expert care if your symptoms are severe enough to affect other parts of your health – disrupting sleep, triggering migraines – or if it’s triggering other chronic conditions like asthma. Tip: If you need allergy relief now, we've got in-person and online care options to help you feel better.

Q4: Stress seems to make allergies worse. Why is that?

A4 | Dr. Gupta: Stress ramps up our hormones which can make our body’s response to allergies more severe. Stress can also impact how we perceive things – so it could make it seem like your allergy symptoms are much worse than they really are.

Q5: If you never had allergies as a kid, is it possible to have them as an adult?

A5 | Dr. Gupta: Yes – as we age, our immune system changes, which can cause the loss or gain of allergies. Also, factors such as new environmental exposures can lead to allergies – so moving to a new city like Charlotte can make allergies develop.

Q6: What about allergy shots? Do they really help?

A6 | Dr. Gupta: Allergy shots are a very effective method of treatment for indoor and outdoor allergies. They help desensitize the immune system, which makes you less reactive to the things you’re allergic to. It’s a great long-term treatment option for many people.

Q7: What’s one thing people might not know about their seasonal allergies?

A7 | Dr. Gupta: Allergies can be compounded. So, if you’re allergic to indoor allergens – such as dogs and cats – the additional exposure to trees or grasses can make your symptoms worse.

 We’re still offering routine care using whichever method is best for your health – whether that’s in person, on the phone or by video chat. If you need to schedule a new appointment, call your PCP or allergist's office or visit to find other care options.

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Article updated on 3/2/23