By Sharna Johnson: CNJ staff writer
Many High Plains residents spend the spring months battling stuffy noses, headaches, watery eyes, sneezing, coughing and sore throats.
Sherri McCarty, a nurse practitioner at X-press Care, said during peak times, between 50 and 60 percent of patients they see are seeking treatment for seasonal allergy symptoms.
McCarty said the geographic characteristics of the High Plains cause reactions in a lot of people who don’t consider themselves allergy sufferers and have no previous history of problems.
Newcomers seem to have the most complaints because they aren’t accustomed to it, she said.
“We do have different allergens in the area than other (areas) plus lack of humidity, high altitude and wind,” she said.
“This is the windy time of the year for us; other places have more shelter from the wind (and dust).”
The culprits are many — dust, pollen, dander and practically any particle small enough to get airborne.
“You’re breathing it in or out if there’s something in the air,” she said.
In most cases, symptoms can be managed at home with nasal saline sprays, antihistamines and reduced exposure to the irritants, she said, but there are times when those solutions don’t work and a prescription is needed.
Lifetime Clovis resident Bill Reed said he is sensitive to weeds. When it’s windy, “the wind catches the weeds,” and he gets headaches, a stuffy head and runny nose.
“I’ve been all over the country (traveling) and I have it here worse than anywhere else,” the retiree said laughing, explaining his brother suffered similarly but moved to Dallas and his symptoms ceased.
Janet Reeves, a nurse for ear, nose and throat specialist Dr. Nicholas Rowley, said by the time patients get to her they’ve usually exhausted all efforts on their own and their physicians have recommended specialized care.
“(Clovis) is not a real good place for allergies, that’s for sure,” Reeves said. “We have wind, but no mountains or anything to block dust and no moisture.”
Frequently military transfers coming in from more humid areas struggle with their reaction to the climate in the eastern plains. “They start having a lot of problems,” she said.
It is not uncommon, Reeves said, for her to give up to 30 allergy shots a day during peak times.