Battling Allergies During Golf Season
Spring is here. This means that it is golf season — and, for many, allergy season!
It can be hard to play your best golf game when you are sneezing or scratching your eyes. Sneezing, watery eyes, a runny nose, itchy eyes, an itchy nose or an itchy throat are all common symptoms of allergies.
Dr. Mark D’Agostino, chief of Otolaryngology at Middlesex Health, says there are seasonal allergies and perennial allergies.
When you have seasonal allergies, you only have allergy symptoms at certain times of the year. If your allergies bother you in the spring when the trees bloom and the grass begins to grow, you might be allergic to trees, grass, ragweed and various types of pollen. If your allergies bother you in the fall, you might be allergic to ragweed. There is a high concentration of ragweed in the fall.
Perennial allergies means that you deal with allergy symptoms throughout the year — not just at certain times of the year. If you have perennial allergies, you might be allergic to dust mites, pets or different types of mold.
What golfers can do
Dr. D’Agostino says there are a few things golfers can do to help minimize their allergy symptoms. You can:
- Look at the weather report and pollen counts before you head out. If you can, avoid golfing on days when the pollen counts are very high, or on windy days when higher airborne pollen counts are more likely.
- Choose tee times when the pollen count is likely to be lower, such as mid-day to later in the afternoon
- Carry a nasal saline spray bottle on the course. Periodically spraying saline in the nose and then blowing it out will help to keep the nasal cavity clean and wash out the pollen that is getting trapped in the nose and causing symptoms.
- Avoid rubbing your eyes. Wearing sunglasses will help limit the amount of eye rubbing, and they will also act as a barrier, preventing pollen from getting in your eyes.
- Take a non-sedating, over-the-counter antihistamine, such as loratadine (Claritin) or fexofenadine (Allegra), before playing golf
- Wash your hands and face immediately after playing golf and change your clothes. This will help minimize your exposure to pollen.
How to treat allergies
Antihistamines, nasal steroid sprays, antihistamine nasal sprays and decongestants can be used to treat allergies. When medications do not control your symptoms, or if you have allergy symptoms throughout the year, you may be given an allergy test.
An allergy test can either be a blood test or a skin prick (scratch) test, and it can tell you what you are allergic to and how allergic or sensitive you are to that substance.
Based on the results of an allergy test, “allergy shots,” or immunotherapy, might be recommended. Dr. D’Agostino says immunotherapy can both treat allergy symptoms and cure them over time.
COVID-19 or allergies?
COVID-19 is caused by the coronavirus. Allergies are not caused by a virus. With that said, certain symptoms, such as coughing or a stuffy nose, may be similar, and this can lead to confusion.
COVID-19 can cause a dry cough and shortness of breath or difficulty breathing. Allergies don’t usually cause breathing problems unless you have a respiratory condition, such as asthma, that can be triggered by exposure to pollen. Allergies may cause a somewhat diminished sense of smell from the congestion. However, a complete loss of sense of smell or taste is a symptom of COVID-19 and not allergies. In addition, a fever, muscle aches and gastrointestinal symptoms, such as nausea and diarrhea, are not seen with allergies, but they are symptoms of COVID-19.
When in doubt, if you are experiencing any symptoms of COVID-19, you should contact your medical provider’s office. They can help you determine your next steps, which may include getting tested for COVID-19.
For more information about COVID-19, click here.
Outdoor activities, such as golf, can increase your risk of exposure to deer tick bites, and those bites could result in Lyme disease. This is especially true in Connecticut, an area where there is a high risk of contracting Lyme disease.
If you did not have the opportunity to play golf during the winter season, or if you do not already have a regular strength and flexibility routine, don’t worry. It’s never too late to start a strength or stretching program.