Spring is here, and while some people will be enjoying the warm weather and blooming flowers, others will be not-so-quietly suffering from yet another allergy season, something Arkansans are all too familiar with.
“I’m allergic to pollen and dust,” freshman Eva Giddens said. “They get really bad around this time of year because (of) spring time everything is blooming and pollen is up and it’s not fun.”
Some people, like sophomore Michael Hogan, suffer from year-round allergies, with breaks here and there.
For Giddens, it really takes a toll on her singing.
“I get sinus congestion that makes a lot of drainage, makes my throat raw, makes me lose my voice, which is bad because I’m a singer,” Giddens said. “It makes it hard for me to sing the higher notes which is rough, especially with some of the songs we’re singing right now in choir.”
Arkansans are not strangers to allergies, but it can come as a surprise to foreigners, even those who have gone their entire lives and never had allergies. According to Lynn McCarty, Director of Student Health Services, it is a case of a change of location.
“We have lots of people come in and say ‘I don’t have allergies’ but maybe they’re from a totally different area of the country or a different country,” McCarty said. “So when they come to Searcy, Ark., they are exposed to different vegetation, different pollutants, everything.”
These allergies can come anywhere from grass to trees. It can develop into a mild annoyance or, in senior John Hale’s experience, a debilitating issue.
“My freshman year here at Harding, the first time I had ever been here in Arkansas during the spring, I had a point where my allergies got so bad that I could barely get out of bed,” Hale said. “I was having trouble standing up because my balance was thrown off because I had gotten an ear infection from my allergies. There were several days where pretty much the only thing that I did was get out of bed, go to the nurse to get my classes excused for the day and then go back to my room and sleep.”
According to McCarty, allergies are histamine responses to the allergens that you are exposed to. This response can lead to itchy and watery eyes, nasal swelling and other symptoms.
Although the effects may be miserable, there are a variety of treatment options. Claritin, Allegra, Zyrtec, benadryl and Albuterol are several medications that are most commonly used.
While Neti Pot is perhaps the most effective method, nasal sprays work well for those who do not wish to pour medicine through a teapot in their nose.
Still, major cases may require a doctor visit.
“I eventually in the fall semester went to the doctor,” Hale said. “They said, ‘Yeah this is probably because of your allergies’ and they gave me a steroid shot and it cleared everything right up and I haven’t had any issues with ear infections since then. I’ve had some issues with allergies since then, but it wasn’t nearly as bad as it was freshman year.”