The Season of Sneezing Is Upon Us

Athena Merritt avatar

by Athena Merritt |

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Runny nose, sneezing, coughing, and itchy, watery eyes. Getting a breath of fresh air ain’t what it used to be. Spring allergy season is underway in the U.S. And it’s going to be a lengthy, brutal stint for those of us in the East, according to AccuWeather meteorologists. 

My main health battle is sarcoidosis, but Mother Nature brings her share of skirmishes, like summer heat, rainy days, winter weather, and spring’s bloom. I foolishly hoped I would be spared this year with the increased time indoors, but no such luck. 

May is National Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month in the U.S. More than 60 million of us battle the duo across the country, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA). That includes 19 million adults and 6.2 million children with asthma and 20 million adults and 5.6 million children with hay fever, rhinitis, or nasal allergies.

Spring is a peak time for allergies, but many of my symptoms began to linger year-round. I determined the culprits causing my misery through allergy skin tests in October. It was a short process. My forearms became pin cushions for dozens of tiny needles that were briefly inserted. Then I was sent to a waiting room for a few minutes and brought back so that they could measure responses to the injections. My allergies are dust mites, Timothy grass, and cockroaches (which I was told includes a number of different insects). 

Allergy test. (Photo by Athena Merritt)

The one-two punch: Asthma and allergies

Having asthma and allergies concurrently is common, and allergies can trigger asthma symptoms in some, the Mayo Clinic reported. Pinpointing my allergies enabled me to be proactive in avoiding irritants and managing my asthma, which is important since lungs are affected in more than 90% of people with sarcoidosis. Unfortunately, with gyms closed, going outdoors to exercise means having to battle allergies, too.

To reduce symptoms, I use a certified Asthma & Allergy Friendly vacuum cleaner, HVAC filter, and air purifier. Many of the other changes I’ve made require effort, not money, such as keeping windows closed, washing sheets weekly in hot water, changing clothes when I come in from outdoors, and dusting and vacuuming frequently. AAFA, which released its 2020 Allergy Capitals report about the top U.S. cities affected by seasonal allergies, offers many more tips. 

Stay safe. Stay healthy. And if you suffer from allergies, stock up on tissues. 

Brighter side: We all could use a break from bad news right now. So, I’ll be closing my columns with a roundup of positivity until we are able to say goodbye to masks, hug our loved ones, and leave our homes without fear.

  • Little libraries, big hearts: The Little Free Library has 100,000 free book-exchange boxes in neighborhoods worldwide. Many operators are removing the books and filling them with food and personal care and household items to help those in need during the COVID-19 pandemic. To find locations, check out the Sharing-Box Map.
  • Play on: The first pitch has yet to be thrown at the Texas Rangers’ new $1.2 billion stadium due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But the parking lot will soon be put to use to host drive-in concerts, USA Today reported.


Note: Sarcoidosis News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Sarcoidosis News or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to sarcoidosis.


Sharlene Redjaian’s avatar

Sharlene Redjaian’s

I was diagnosed w sarcoidosis 20 years ago. Whenever I go to my General Practioner for my annual exam I ask if I should be checking certain things in my bloodwork or any test that can help me determine if my sarcoidosis is “active” she ask can u breath if you walk up a flight of stairs? Having breathing issues ? I say no, and she like well no test.

Athena Merritt avatar

Athena Merritt

Wow, that is surprising. I’m sorry to hear your physician is brushing off your concerns. When I was diagnosed it was stressed that annual lung and eye exams would be necessary the rest of my life. My pulmonologist has me undergo a breathing test every year and usually a chest x-ray or CT and bloodwork. I also have a thorough eye exam. Readers have made me aware of the need to make cardiac exams a part of my regular checkups too.

The allergy testing was done by my ENT and I shared results with my pulmonologist, who then weighed in with tips for prevention moving forward. I hope this helps. Take care and stay safe.

David G Gamble avatar

David G Gamble

Before reading this article I never knew about AAFA and I am even surprised by the statistics which I also never thought of.

Athena Merritt avatar

Athena Merritt

I was too. Their website has a lot of interesting info. Thank you for reading and reaching out to let me know your thoughts.

Mark Roberts avatar

Mark Roberts

Hello. I am a 50yo Caucasian male, in good health, never smoked, and consume maybe a beer or two per month. Approximately 8 years ago, I was diagnosed with family Dr told me not to worry, it will most likely go away....we it hasn't. My last two blood draws show high protien levels in my urine (possible kidney issues), and a recent ultra sound shows an enlarged spleen....that coupled with the fact that I am get winded after climbing a set of stairs. Again, my primary Dr doesn't seem concerned...honestly, I am. I have read a lot about my condition, and am not 100% sure if my condition wasn't a result of things that I was exposed to at work...IDK, just scary and frustrating at the same father passed from his exposure to asbestos (mesothelioma)...I envision myself going the same way....

Athena Merritt avatar

Athena Merritt

Hi Mark,
Have you considered finding another doctor or getting another opinion? Having more than one set of eyes on my health has really helped me, If I feel like a physician is ignoring or missing something, I can talk to others about it.
I also stick to physicians with experience treating sarcoidosis. If you are in a support group, ask others for recommendations. The Foundation for Sarcoidosis Research also has a physician finder tool, at this link: Take care, and let me know how you make out. Athena


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