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Spring is one of my favorite seasons in Connecticut. I love hearing the birds chirping, seeing the flowers blooming, and watching nature come back to life. And when living with spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), the warmer weather is much more forgiving to the body than the cold weather. However, there is one downfall to the beauty of the spring season, allergies. 

I’ve had allergies since I could remember. They usually crop up around the same time every year. Occasionally, I get them during the fall months, as well. Meanwhile, I get a bit anxious when the warmer season arrives because allergies can mimic the same symptoms of a bad cold. And as I’ve mentioned in previous columns, the common cold is extremely difficult to fight for someone with SMA. The difference between recovering from allergies and the common cold is the duration of time it takes. The symptoms of allergies can last from anywhere between a few weeks to a few months. 

The symptom of allergies I have the most problem with is the nasal drip. Unfortunately, I produce an excessive amount of mucus during this time. It makes me anxious because if it enters my chest, it’s very difficult to eradicate. Sometimes I won’t be able to fully get rid of it until the mid-summer time frame.

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Meanwhile, with a cold, there’s some awareness with each day that you’re on your way to feeling better. Colds incubate for a specific period of time and usually disappear after a couple of weeks. However, with allergies, it feels constant. In addition, they make me extremely exhausted, which makes it challenging to fight the symptoms. It’s a vicious cycle I dread experiencing every year. 

Also, the COVID virus makes it difficult to differentiate between symptoms. I know we’re told the fever is a sure sign of COVID, but I often get a fever with allergies because sometimes it turns into a bacterial infection. I’m assuming this happens because I don’t have the strength to cough up all the phlegm, which ends up turning into bacterial. 

Nonetheless, I noticed if I catch the symptoms early enough, and take some Claritin, I do a little better. I have a regimented schedule in order to ward off the plague of seasonal allergies. It’s pertinent I stick to it in order to escape pneumonia. Steaming daily, sometimes 3 times a day, is a must. It’s also important I minimize any dairy products or foods that generate additional phlegm. And most importantly, getting adequate rest is essential. If I’m not getting good sleep, it’s much more difficult for me to fight through. 

With all that said, as I’ve played around with different supplements and regimes, I’ve been able to maintain symptoms much better than in previous years. Sometimes it’s all about trial and error with SMA, and sticking to the routine that works best for you.