Allergies on rise as on-campus flu numbers decline


By Jacob Hook

While the number of flu cases is decreasing, the closing of the spring semester is bringing a rise in allergy symptoms for many on TCU’s campus.

TCU Health Center patient room. Photo courtesy: Jake Hook

There were 185 flu tests administered at TCU’s Health Center in February, with 31 confirmed cases of type-A or type-B flu.

“I had type-A flu in February,” said Ryan Layne, a senior Film, Television and Digital Media major. “The symptoms came on fast, and it lasted for about a week.”

In March, TCU’s Health Center reported 49 flu tests administered, with 12 confirmed cases of type-A or type-B flu.

“At the beginning of the semester, we had quite a bit of flu, but as we get into spring, those go away,” said Jane Torgerson, medical director of TCU’s Health Center. “As things start blooming, allergies are going to go crazy.”

Bar graph of the TCU Health Center’s flu test results for the months of January, February and March. Photo courtesy: Jake Hook

Mountain cedar and ragweed are two of the biggest allergens in Tarrant County, Torgerson said.

“Avoidance is not always possible but staying inside with windows closed can help get things under control,” Larry Graham, an Owensboro Health pharmacist, said.

Maddie Ritterbusch, a sophomore biology student, said her allergies are worse since coming to campus, and she shared how she has tried to combat her symptoms.

Dust flying in the air on TCU’s campus. Photo courtesy: Jake Hook

“I typically take Zyrtec and wash my hair after being outside,” she said. “Changing sheets and pillowcases more frequently also helps.”

Torgerson warned students to not take allergies lightly.

“If you know you have allergies, the minute it turns to spring, you should start taking your allergy medicine or maybe even nasal rinses,” Torgerson said. “If you think about it, anytime things are swollen, things don’t drain as well, and that is a setup for bacteria to grow.”

Students who suffer from allergies should take a combination of nasal spray and antihistamines, like Flonase and Allegra, before or at the onset of the symptoms, Graham said.