Woman blowing her nose

In this episode of our audio blog, ENT and allergist Dr. Todd Kupferman discusses what allergy season looks like in sunny South Florida. While the weather encourages flowers and trees to bloom longer, allergen-producing foliage often peaks earlier and at different times throughout the year. Tune in for great advice on over-the-counter remedies and what to do when you’ve exhausted all avenues.

Shelby Stockton (00:00):
Welcome to the South Florida ENT Audio Blog. I'm Shelby Stockton and today I talked with ENT allergist, Dr. Todd Kupferman. We discussed allergy triggers specific to South Florida and the small price you must pay for the great weather. It's year round allergies. If you've recently developed allergies, Dr. Kupferman explains the difference between them and minor cold, and he also gives some great advice for over the counter remedies. Dr. Kupferman, thank you so much for taking time out of your day to talk to me.

Dr. Todd Kupferman (00:30):
Oh, Shelby, it's a pleasure.

Shelby Stockton (00:32):
I want to talk about allergies and I want to be super specific about allergies in Florida. What are allergy triggers specific to Florida?

Dr. Todd Kupferman (00:41):
Oh, the most common are the pollens and plus dust for indoor allergies.

Shelby Stockton (00:47):
So, does Florida have an allergy season?

Dr. Todd Kupferman (00:52):
Unfortunately, because our weather is so lovely down here in South Florida, the allergies that would ordinarily be seasonal up north are more perennial down here, meaning, they last all year long.

Shelby Stockton (01:05):
Oh, wow, what a gift. You get the beautiful weather, but you have to take the bad with it as well.

Dr. Todd Kupferman (01:11):
Exactly, right.

Shelby Stockton (01:13):
So, I know that some people grow into allergies. They don't start off with them, and as they get older and mature, they start to feel them. How would someone who's new to allergies know the difference between like, is this just a minor cold or do I now have allergies?

Dr. Todd Kupferman (01:28):
Usually minor colds go away in seven to 10 days. And they may have systemic symptoms, like fevers and chills or muscle aches, whereas allergies, it's more ongoing. It's more lingering, maybe for weeks on end or months on end. And then there's more signs and symptoms that the doctor would look for when you go to the office and they could tell more of infectious etiology or allergy etiology.

Shelby Stockton (01:58):
Okay. And the symptoms you would have for allergies would be?

Dr. Todd Kupferman (02:03):
Well, it depends on the end organ. As an allergist, we see people with itchy ears or itchy nose or itchy eyes or a constellation of symptoms. Are they a post-nasal drip, or they have a cough or they have runny nose, stuffy nose, headaches, sinus pressure, the list is very extensive.

Shelby Stockton (02:24):
Okay. It can be any or all, or a few of those things?

Dr. Todd Kupferman (02:28):

Shelby Stockton (02:28):
Okay, understood. So, what are some treatments that can help people who are suffering from allergies?

Dr. Todd Kupferman (02:36):
Well, most patients are pretty savvy these days. They try over the counter allergy medicines, like antihistamines that you might find in any drugstore, and nasal sprays are now over the counter. So, a lot of times people are trying those before they come see a doctor. Nasal steroids, saline irrigation, those are the most common treatments that we start with.

Shelby Stockton (02:58):
Okay. So, let's say I've done all that and I'm still suffering, then what?

Dr. Todd Kupferman (03:04):
Then we might consider allergy testing to see what triggers your specific allergies. And then the next step after that would be avoiding those allergens.

Shelby Stockton (03:18):
Right. So, if you're allergic to your cat, that might be a problem.

Dr. Todd Kupferman (03:27):
Especially when they're sleeping on your head that night.

Shelby Stockton (03:27):
Right. But if it's something you can stay away from, that's a little bit easier.

Dr. Todd Kupferman (03:30):
Exactly. And I've tried telling people, leave their cat outside the bedroom, and then they just claw the door down. So, that doesn't work really.

Shelby Stockton (03:37):
You know what? You can't fight love, especially when a cat's involved.

Dr. Todd Kupferman (03:43):

Shelby Stockton (03:43):
So, let's say somebody is like, "Okay, I have allergies. I've been doing my best at keeping it bay by using over the counter antihistamines or what have you, I still have them. I'm reluctant to go to the doctor." What would you say to those people?

Dr. Todd Kupferman (04:02):
Well, first, I'd wonder why they were reluctant to go to the doctor, but I guess they should ask their local pharmacist if there's any other over the counter medicines they could try. There is really a whole aisle full at any drugstore, and they could try a combination of those meds, to the pills and the sprays and the washes.

Shelby Stockton (04:20):
Right. I guess that some people just scared of doctors. I'm sorry to tell you that.

Dr. Todd Kupferman (04:24):
Oh, I've heard, I've heard, yes. We try to keep it calm in the office.

Shelby Stockton (04:29):
So, if I do end up coming to you or a patient ends up coming to you because the allergies just keep persisting, you do the testing, you do the diagnosis, are there supercharged prescriptions that I would get from you that I may not be able to get over the counter?

Dr. Todd Kupferman (04:45):
Oh, yeah, we could. Yes, of course. Most of them luckily are now generic, so they're not as expensive as they used to be. But there's nasal antihistamines and there's anticholinergic medications that we can use that are prescription based. And sometimes you need to just figure out what would work best for that particular patient to help them work through their particular scenario.

Shelby Stockton (05:08):
Right. Okay, that makes sense. One more question for you before we take off, can anybody grow out of allergies? Do they ever end?

Dr. Todd Kupferman (05:17):
Oh, of course, and they fluctuate. Sometimes they can have a few good years and then the symptoms come right back. And what's really interesting is, women, when they get pregnant, sometimes that can trigger allergies, even though they've never had allergies before. Or if they've had really bad allergies, they get pregnant and the allergies disappear for years. So, it's fascinating how that influences their allergies.

Shelby Stockton (05:41):
That's so interesting. Science is weird. The human body's weird.

Dr. Todd Kupferman (05:47):
We like fascinating more than weird.

Shelby Stockton (05:49):
Fascinating is a better word. You're right. You're right. Thanks for the correction. Well, Dr. Kupferman, thank you so much for taking time out of your day to talk to us about allergies.

Dr. Todd Kupferman (05:58):
Oh, it's my pleasure.

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