Your health questions answered: Managing stress and seasonal allergies

You ask. OHSU health experts answer. This month, our psychology and pharmacy experts are on the hot seat.

Q. How can I better manage my stress?

A. Stress affects our lives through worry, comparison and perfection around issues including finances, parenting, work performance, relationships, health and self-esteem.

Small amounts of anxiety may propel us to move forward. But when it becomes chronic, our ability to manage stress lessens. This affects our most basic functions: sleep, focus, vitality, health, relationships, joy and balance.

  • Think about what works best for you, and consider re-evaluating your needs.
  • Reset high expectations to realistic ones.
  • Let planning replacing worrying.
  • Set boundaries and limits that promote self-care in the form of relaxation, time management, rest, good food and simple activity.

Deep breathing, focusing on the present and appreciating yourself more for who you are than what you do can help calm the heart-pounding “fight or flight” experience that occurs with stress and let you feel more at ease.

Q. How can I treat seasonal allergies?

A. If you have seasonal allergies, you might notice they’ve started sooner this year: Our warm winter has led plants to bloom earlier. But allergies can occur year-round and may include pets and environmental factors such as carpet, perfumes or detergents.

Many allergies can be treated with over-the-counter medications including Claritin (loratadine), Zyrtect (cetirizine) or Allegra (fexofenadine).

Topical steroid nasal sprays such as Flonase (flucticasone nasal) and Nasacort (triamcinolone acetonide) treat nasal passages and provide the advantages of steroids without side effects.

Allergic reactions might make your eyes red or watery: Patanol (olopatadine), Pataday (olopatadine hydrochloride) or Cromolyn are prescription eye drops that can help. Non-prescription eye drops including Alaway (ketotifen).

If these don’t work, talk to your primary care provider; you may need to see a specialist.


Dr. Lisa Schimmel is a clinical psychologist and consultant, who has been in practices for 20 years. She is an assistant professor at OHSU and a staff psychologist at the university’s Joseph B. Trainer Health and Wellness Center. Join Dr. Schimmel June 10 at the Ask the Health Expert seminar “Dealing with stress” at OHSU’s center for Health and Healing. Click here to register.

Pharmacist George Harvey is part of the OHSU pharmacy team. The Department of Pharmacy Services operates six outpatient pharmacies, where patients may have prescriptions filled, as well as a mail-order pharmacy. Find more information, including hours and directions, here.