Happy to finally have a break from winter weather? Your eyes and nose may not thank you just yet. Red, itchy eyes, sneezing and runny noses are plaguing allergy sufferers across the nation as tree pollen counts surge to high levels. That’s why sufferers are flocking to local urgent cares like AFC/Doctors Express for a desperate dose of quick allergy relief. Even people who’ve never had allergy problems are seeing the doctor this spring as a yellow tide of pollen rolls in.
“More and more people come in thinking they have a cold, but in many cases it’s an allergy attack -- even if they’ve never had allergies before,” says Dr. Bruce Irwin, founder of American Family Care and AFC/Doctors Express, a national chain of urgent care centers with a local office in our area. “The high pollen counts we’re seeing are causing people to react badly and seek medical attention. We’re treating a lot of them!”
And Mother Nature isn’t done yet. Grass pollen starts to bloom in April, continuing into May and June, followed by ragweed and other weed pollens in late summer and early fall, leaving allergy sufferers facing a warm season filled with pesky allergy symptoms.
ABCDs of Allergies
• Some 40 million Americans have indoor/outdoor allergies. The most common triggers are tree, grass and weed pollen; mold spores, dust mite and cockroach allergens; and cat, dog and rodent dander.
• The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America reports allergies account for more than 17 million outpatient office visits each year – primarily in spring and fall.
• You can develop allergies at any age. You’re most likely to develop allergies if there is a history of allergies in your family.
“Studies show the average wait time to see a specialist is 20 days. People have busy lives. These allergy attacks that caught them off guard, make people miserable, and they want immediate relief,” says Dr. Irwin. “That’s why urgent cares like ours that are open seven days a week are becoming the go-to solution for allergy care."
Beware of symptoms - Is it an allergy or a cold?
• Red, itchy, watery eyes – common colds don’t cause eye irritation.
• Sneezing – can be cold-related but is usually triggered by an allergy
• Dark circles under eyes
• Only lasts a week – allergy symptoms can persist until you take medicine
• Fever – allergies don’t cause a fever
• Aches and pains – allergy sufferers may feel weak, but aches and pains are typically signs of a cold
Children suffer long term
• Approximately 40 percent of children in the U.S. suffer from allergies.
• Nasal congestion can lead to sleepless nights for kids, resulting in fatigue and poor performance at school.
• Congestion can also lead to mouth-breathing in kids, causing dental problems.
• Untreated allergies can lead to ear and sinus infections.
Don’t let your guard down
• If you’ve been outside, take a shower before you go to bed and change into fresh clothes so you don’t bring pollen onto your sheets that may have clung to your skin, hair or clothes.
• Limit outdoor activity to late afternoon – pollen counts are highest in the morning.
• It’s best to go outside after a good rain, which helps clear pollen from the air.
• Keep car and home windows closed and opt for air condition at night to keep pollen out.
• Change your bedding and pillow covers often.
• Use a vacuum with a HEPA filter
Sources: Mayo Clinic, American College of Asthma, Allergy and Immunology, Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, Parents Magazine, The Weather Channel
About American Family Care:
American Family Care is the second largest privately owned urgent care operator in the country. D. Bruce Irwin, M.D. founded the company in 1982 in Hoover, Ala., with a business model of “putting the patient first.” The clinics are designed, equipped and staffed to provide accessible primary care, urgent care, minor emergency treatment and occupational medicine. AFC clinics use a high-tech, high-touch approach to medical care, with digital x-rays, laboratories and medication dispensing available on-site. AFC also offers a Specialty Clinic (general surgery), WeighToLive, and U-Save Pharmacy at many of its clinics. In 2013, AFC acquired Doctors Express, the largest national urgent care franchise. By the end of 2014, AFC will operate more than 160 facilities in 26 states, providing care to more than a million patients. For more information, visit www.americanfamilycare.com.
About AFC/Doctors Express Urgent Care:
Founded by an emergency room physician seeking a more efficient, affordable and personable system for urgent care patients, AFC/Doctors Express walk-in medical centers are sweeping the country as the nation's largest urgent care franchise. AFC/Doctors Express provides state-of-the-art treatment for acute illness, trauma (including minor surgical procedures) and has on-site laboratory and digital x-ray service as well as medication dispensing. Pre-employment physicals, drug screening and treatment of work related injuries are also available to local employers. In 2013, American Family Care acquired Doctors Express, further expanding its reach and available services. By the end of 2014, AFC/Doctors Express will operate more than 160 facilities in 26 states, providing care to more than a million patients. For more information visit http://www.doctorsexpress.com or http://www.americanfamilycare.com