Doctor's Notes | Published September 7, 2011 | Written by Yi How Kao, MD

How to Stop Seasonal Sneezing

The increases in allergic reactions in adults and children are likely linked to increased air pollution and global warming. In some cases, people from distinctly different climates and/or from other countries may find themselves suffering from the area's high pollen count.

Here in Central Pennsylvania, we recently experienced a particularly hot and humid summer, a factor that increases both the pollen count and the mold count, which in turn triggers allergic reactions.
Still, if you're an allergy sufferer, there are steps you can take, with your doctor's guidance, to lessen some of the more egregious symptoms.

  • In most cases, the first recommendation will likely be an over-the-counter (OTC) medication. Seasonal allergies can usually be treated effectively with over the counter medicine like Claritin™ or Zyrtec™. The key to using these medicines, however, is to treat prior to exposure (take the medication daily before the onset of any symptoms).
  • For perennial allergy suffers, the same rule applies; if you're visiting a relative that has pets and you have allergies, be sure to take the medicine before you arrive.
  • A basic saline nose spray is also a handy, inexpensive aid to help keep the nasal passages clean during times of high pollen and mold count.
  • If OTC treatments do not work, your physician will likely write you a prescription for an antihistamine.
  • Your physician might also conduct some allergy testing and possibly recommend a series of shots to help build your body's immunities to the triggers.

Patients can also take steps to improve their immediate environments, which will also help reduce their symptoms. Cleaning shelves and bedding, installing air filters and/or cleaning the filters of the air conditioning/heating units are useful preventative steps.

Keep in mind that the average healthy adult usually has between one or two colds per year. If an individual starts having five or six colds per year, often accompanied by headaches, he or she may in fact be suffering from allergies. An appointment with your physician will help determine the specifics.

For those that suffer from chronic sinus infections or inflammation of the sinus lining lasting three months or more and usually caused by viral, bacterial and or microbial infections, there is a new treatment option available at Mount Nittany Medical Center.

Balloon Sinuplasty™ uses a gradually inflated balloon to open a narrowed or blocked sinus passageway under computer guidance. It's minimally invasive for the patient, less painful than traditional sinus surgery and has a faster recovery time.

With this procedure, the success rate has been over 90 percent for chronic sinusitis.

Yi How Kao, MD of the Otolaryngology Group of Central Pennsylvania is an American Board of Otolaryngology certified head and neck surgeon on staff at Mount Nittany Medical Center. Visit for more information.