Breathe a Little Easier

Keep your allergies under control with medication or by taking a few proactive steps.

Oak and bayberry pollens are going full bore outside, while dust mites wreak havoc indoors.


Spring is in full bloom in Central Florida! Sure, it’s only February, but our trees started pollinating in December, and “our spring peaks in February and March,” says Orlando allergist Dr. Michael Anderson.  

For seasonal allergy sufferers, now is the worst time of year because their immune systems are overreacting to 20 or 30 types of airborne pollens—primarily oak and bayberry.

When you consider all of our grass, weed and mold spores, Central Florida is a yearlong festival of potential allergens. And pollens aren’t even the worst of it, allergists say.

“If you take everybody who has trouble with allergies in Central Florida and do all the tests, you’ll find [that people are allergic to] dust mites more than anything,” says Anderson. 

Florida’s high humidity makes it a tropical paradise for dust mites, says Orlando allergist Dr. Andrew Bagg, because they require water to survive. They chow down on dead human skin cells and accumulate on pillows, mattresses, upholstered furniture, blankets and carpeting. 

“They’re probably our biggest overall allergen here,” Bagg says, “and they’re not airborne.”

Antihistamines are the first resort for many nasal allergy sufferers, especially if their symptoms are mild and occasional. But individuals who have intense, persistent symptoms often turn to immunotherapy to treat the root cause of their reactions rather than just the symptoms.

Immunotherapy combines a patient’s history of allergic reactions with skin testing to identify the specific allergens causing symptoms. Then the goal “is to build up an immunity or tolerance, basically a desensitization,” says Bagg. “We start the dose at a low level then build it up over time with individualized strategies.”

Those strategies can take the form of shots, or sublingual drops or tablets customized for each patient. Most insurance plans don’t cover sublingual drops because the Food and Drug Administration considers their use “off-label.” But both drops and tablets are “quite a bit more convenient for a lot of people,” Anderson says, because patients can self-administer them at home instead of coming into the doctor’s office for a shot.

Immunotherapy is divided into a “build-up” phase of three to six months and a “maintenance” phase of three to five years, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. The academy suggests reviewing treatment options with your allergist if you don’t see improvement after the first year of the maintenance phase. 

Tips for allergy relief

Although immunotherapy can help reduce reactions to those ubiquitous dust mites, allergists advise going on the offense as well as the defense:

  • Remove old carpeting; opt for tile or wood.
  • Wash bedding in hot water and use a hot dryer setting.
  • Use allergen-proof covers for pillows.
  • Replace upholstered furniture with leather.

They offer the same advice to people with cat and dog allergies. Immunotherapy can reduce sensitivity, allergists say, but patients should be proactive:

  • Keep pets out of the bedroom and off the bed.
  • Cat lovers should consider using filtered air purifiers in their cat’s favorite rooms. (Studies on using air purifiers for dog owners aren’t conclusive.)
Edit Module
Want to read the whole issue? Download and read this issue and others on Magzter.

Add your comment:
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow TagsEdit ModuleShow Tags

Guides & Resources

Top Doctors 2017

The Annual List of the Top Doctors in Orlando.

Best Doctors 2017

The Annual List of the Best Doctors in Orlando.

Orlando's Top Chiropractors of 2017

Check out our 2017 list of some of the best chiropractors in the Orlando area.

2017 Premier Veterinarians

The 2017 Pet Guide: Pet Resource Guide

Here are some of the places you can go in Central Florida when you need supplies, products and services for your best friends.

Premier Realtors 2017

Let Orlando's best realtors help you find your dream home!

Orlando's Best Lawyers 2017

Our annual list includes hundreds of Orlando-area attorneys in dozens of areas of practice.
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags

MoreRecent Blog Posts

Weekend Happenings Dec 15 to 17

Know what's happening in and around Orlando for the weekend.

Health Hub: Obesity in America

Regaining Health and Hope.

Bigtime Football Coming To Orlando

Notre Dame vs. LSU and Virginia Tech vs. Oklahoma State

Weekend Happenings Dec 8 to 10

Know what's happening in and around Orlando for the weekend.

Weekend Happenings Dec 1 to 3

Know what's happening in and around Orlando for the weekend.
Edit Module