Mon | Aug 21, 2017

Season of Allergies

Published:Monday | April 24, 2017 | 4:00 AM

We love spring, the colours, the fashion, the make-up, the fruits. And living in Jamaica, where it feels like spring all year round, you are happy all the time - unless you suffer from allergies.

As it pertains to allergies there are several ways in which one can be affected by the outdoors according to both Allergist Dr A Wayne Lawrence and General Practitioner Dr Audley Betton. Lawrence notes that in Jamaica there is not quite a definite season change so saying that Spring is allergy season does not necessarily apply at home, but rather we are year round sufferers.


1. Rhinitis which according Dr Betton has the symptoms of hay fever and mucus that usually occurs during pollination. Common build up of mucus and itchy eyes are also symptoms of this. This can also be a trigger for asthmatics.

2. Sinusitis is also a common manifestation of allergies as stated by Dr Lawrence. Everything from mould to pollen can cause a reaction.

3. Then there is dermatitis when individuals comes into constant contact with allergen that will cause irritation of the skin. Dr Lawrence mentions that this mostly occurs with clothing and jewellery that might constantly rest on your skin. However, Dr Betton does note that there are cases where it is the plants and outdoor element like freshly cut grass in the air that might cause someone to it.

4. With pollination comes bees and with bees comes their stings and outside of the painful sting, some are allergic to it.

5. Asthma - usually during this time from pollen to dust are triggers for asthmatics.

Avoiding the Myths

1. Building the immune system is something that we commonly hear that we should do when it comes to dealing with allergies especially sinusitis. Well Lawrence states that this is a myth. Having allergies mean that you already have a hyperactive immune system. Trying to boost it would be futile.

2. Dr Lawrence recommends trying to avoid allergens as much as possible.

3. Dr Betton on the other hand notes that you may not easily avoid this. So as you enter your home taking off you clothes and washing off as you get home should assist if you take anything inside with you.

4. Both doctors admits that the best preventative measure is taking an antihistamine. If you know that you might be exposed to a trigger then taking it before will help you to avoid a reaction.

5. Dr Lawrence also believe in desensitisation where persons does a series of tests to show what they are allergic to and then treat as such.

6. What one needs to notes about allergies there are different reactions in every individual from minor when all you might need is an antihistamine or life threatening. Dr Betton states that since this is the case and unfortunately Jamaica is not a country that has an emergency response, it is up to you to get to the hospital quickly you should definitely try too be aware. For those who are severe something as simple as an Epipen may help but it is not available in Jamaica and costs a lot of money. Thus one should pay keen attention to family history. Noting what they close family members might be allergic to if anything. Pay attention to children for example, an allergic reaction to dairy could mean the manifestation of asthma later in life.

7. Tell your doctor everything. For individuals that might suffer from allergies they should tell their doctors every allergy because down to the latex glove for examination can be a trigger.

This is the season of joy ,but for some it can be a bit testy. However, it does not mean you cannot enjoy it. Grab those antihistamine and enjoy the beauty of the season.