Springtime is known for allergies, but that’s not the only ailment that pops up during this season. Here are the top five spring health problems and a few ways to avoid them.
While pollen does cause problems for people with allergies, it’s also very problematic for those with asthma. “Allergens like pollen can affect the lungs and airways,” says Kelly Latimer, Associate Professor of EVMS Family and Community Medicine. “To avoid worsening of asthma symptoms this time of year, keep windows closed, change air filters on your HVAC and keep up with your daily allergy and asthma medications.”
When allergy symptoms continue for a long period of time, sinus infections can become a problem. They can occur after 10 days of symptoms, a period that gives the bacteria time to build up and become a sinus infection.
Symptoms can include:
- Green nasal discharge for more than week
- Sinus headaches
- Tooth pain
To determine whether you are experiencing allergies or a sinus infection, it’s best to set up an appointment with your primary care physician.
Insect Stings and Tick Bites
EVMS Family Medicine physicians also see an uptick in insect stings and tick bites this time of year. “Once the temperature is consistently over 45 degrees, ticks wake up from their winter dormancy,” Dr. Latimer says. “People are excited to get back outside, but so are ticks!”
To avoid tick bites, Dr. Latimer recommends wearing long pants when possible and using insect repellent when walking through brush or unmown grass. She also says it’s a good idea to do a tick check after you are done. “That includes all of your nooks and crannies,” she adds. “You may need a friend to do this for you.”
Spring is also the time where people start to think about getting back into shape and looking good in a swimsuit. That often leads to people creating their own ambitious workout plans.
Dr. Latimer says the biggest mistake is doing too much too fast. “Being sedentary all winter and then jumping right into an overly ambitious exercise program is a set up for painful injuries like plantar fasciitis, knee pain, or IT band syndrome.”
She recommends setting a realistic goal and easing into an exercise plan.
Poison ivy is an incredibly non-descript, benign looking plant that grows extensively throughout Hampton Roads. It can be treated with topical over-the-counter hydrocortisone if it is only in a small area, but if it’s extensive, Dr. Latimer says you may need to be evaluated by a physician for oral steroids.
Two years ago, she was new to Virginia and wasn’t familiar with what poison ivy looked like or how horrible it could be. Shortly after clearing some brush near her house, she experienced it first-hand. “I developed a horrible itchy, red, and blistery rash all over my legs, arms, and even my abdomen and back,” Dr. Latimer says. “I tried everything, but it wasn’t until I saw a doctor and got a prescription for prednisone that the rash started to cool down.”
She recommends always wearing long sleeves and pants when doing yard work or in places where poison ivy might grow.
Learn more about springtime ailments or set up an appointment with a physician by contacting EVMS Family and Community Medicine.