High Country residents battle allergies
Aisha Oldham said her allergies are so bad that she should just go ahead and live in a bubble.The 26-year-old Vail resident has been dealing with bad allergies since she was about 9 years old, and she feels like she’s tried just about every cure there is, without any success.”As of right now, mentally I’m just frustrated,” Oldham said. “I’m so used to it now. It’s just an everyday thing, even though it’s no fun.”Oldham might have a more extreme case of allergies, but she’s certainly not alone in the High Country. The change of seasons has people sneezing and sniffling from Breckenridge to Aspen, and local doctors are seeing proof that allergy season is here to wreak havoc.”Allergies are taking a toll on our valley this spring and early summer, especially with the windy days we have experienced,” said Dr. Rob McDermott, of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology of the Rockies in Eagle and Glenwood Springs. “Pollen counts are up for trees and grass is soon to follow as we progress through the month of June.”The wind has been stirring things up lately, and not just outside. As temperatures rise and people start opening their windows, pollens can blow inside and the wind can stir up indoor dust and dander, too.Deborah A. Wiancek, a naturopathic doctor who runs the Riverwalk Natural Health Clinic & Natural Pharmacy in Edwards, said the earlier people seek help for their allergies, the easier it will be to treat them.”If it’s bad now, it’s going to get worse through the summer,” Wiancek said. “The longer you wait, the worse it will get and the longer it will take to treat it.”The pollen counts for Frisco are medium to high this week, according to the local allergy forecast at pollen.com. McDermott said there’s not really an end in sight anytime soon, either.Things started to kick up around April, with tree pollens that will continue to cause trouble well into June, which is right around the time grasses get taller and start to pollinate.”Then into the fall, in July, August and September, there’s a prolific weed season as well,” McDermott said.
All the pollen in the air shouldn’t deter people from trying to fight it, though. Wiancek and McDermott, while in very different practices, each have plenty of options for allergy victims.Wiancek said homeopathic drops can desensitize people with grass and weed allergies, among others.”Once we change the internal environment, then they’re not going to react to the outside environment,” Wiancek said.McDermott said testing to identify allergies can create a tailored treatment for each individual based on the various seasons and allergens in the air. It’s also important to identify whether allergies are caused from indoor dander or dust or outdoor plants and trees.Allergy shots are one answer to the problem, McDermott said.”When we do allergy shots, it retrains the immune system to no longer look at tree pollen as foreign, but something we can be tolerant of,” he said.Wiancek said a complete history will help her determine which things a patient should eliminate exposure to and which things they need to build up exposure to.”You can actually get rid of allergies,” Wiancek said.Wiancek and McDermott both agree over-the-counter fixes can help control the problems, but they agree those fixes, whether natural or medicinal, are only temporary.Any potential cure is intriguing for sufferers like Oldham, who has developed some of her own personal cures over the years.She doesn’t touch her face or eyes, never opens her windows at home or in her car and does almost all of her exercising indoors. She said she does whatever she can to live in a bubble.”It’s an ordeal,” Oldham said. “It’s been very restricting as far as having an active lifestyle outdoors.”
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