Allergies are a concern for many ACU students each year, and this fall has been no different. The ACU Medical Clinic has treated several patients for symptoms including itchy eyes, itchy ears, runny noses, sinus drainage, congestion and coughs. Dr. Ellen Little of the Medical Clinic said the number of patient visits has been especially high in recent weeks.
“We had the most students coming in around mid-October, although numbers have remained high through early November,” Little said.
Abilene pollen levels are currently “low-medium” and have been at this level since Nov. 4, according to pollen.com. The levels the site uses to categorize allergens in the air are low, low-medium, medium, medium-high, and high. High pollen concentrations range from 9.7-12 parts per million and low levels from 0-2.4 ppm.
Abilene pollen levels have reached levels of up to 8.0 ppm, or medium-high, in the last 30 days, causing many Abilene residents and ACU students to experience sinus troubles. The allergen levels were particularly high from Oct. 19-25, with levels peaking at 8.0 ppm on Oct. 25, according to the website. Dr. Little and Medical Clinic staff saw the effects as students came to the clinic for help with allergies and asthma.
The Medical Clinic usually suggests over-the-counter medicines first, but if symptoms persist the Medical Clinic can prescribe prescription drugs, and even special nose-sprays with steroids for serious cases. Inhalers and prescription drugs like Singulair are often prescribed to treat asthma.
“The cases are very individualized,” Little said. “There are a variety of drugs that may be used to treat the patient.”
The Medical Clinic will also administer allergy shots, although it does not conduct allergy shot testing. The Medical Clinic refers students interested in completing allergy testing to the Allergy & Asthma Clinic of Abilene. Some students prefer to return to their hometown to conduct tests, Little said.
“Most people prefer the less expensive options, such as over the counter drugs,” Little said. “But if a student has a prescription for allergy shots we can administer them.”
Abilene residents have experienced some relief recently with a drop in allergen levels in November, Little said. Pollen levels were labeled at low-medium on pollen.com.
Alice Guerra, junior Ad/PR major from San Antonio, receives weekly allergy shots at the Medical Clinic.
“I am allergic to Texas,” Guerra said. “I am congested year round. After I first started getting the shots my roommate asked if I was sick because my voice sounded so different. I was like, ‘No, this is my real voice!'”
The ACU Medical Clinic is also available for information and can be contacted at 674-2625.