Healthy Living

Common Spring Health Concerns with Dr. Hoersten

Apr 7 2023

When the weather warms up after a long winter, you might feel more than ready for spring. Getting outdoors again can feel revitalizing, and longer days are also much appreciated.

However, it’s not unusual for people to notice a few health problems during spring. Knowing a little about these ailments may help you avoid them and feel healthier throughout the season.

Tricia Hoersten, MD, MHA, a second-year family medicine resident at our Family Medicine Residency Program at St. Rita’s Medical Center (pictured above), is here with all the information you need to know about spring health.

Spring allergies

Seasonal allergies are a common problem, thanks to budding trees, bushes and plants that release pollen into the air.

“Many people are sensitive to the pollen and other environmental allergens that make a return in the spring months,” Dr. Hoersten explains. “Patients may notice symptoms including itchy or watery eyes, congestion, postnasal drip and/or ear fullness.”

Your geographic location will determine when spring allergies hit. If you live in the south, you might notice springtime allergies starting in February. Those in the north might not begin to notice sneezing and itchy eyes until May or June.

“If you experience spring allergies every year, a good tip is to start using an intranasal corticosteroid or oral antihistamine a couple of weeks before your symptoms typically start,” Dr. Hoersten adds. “This can help calm down the body’s response to the allergens before symptoms are severe. If you do start having allergy symptoms, these same over-the-counter treatments can be started. However, know that these treatments need to be used consistently for two to four weeks before you may notice any benefit.”


Asthma may be another issue during the spring months, depending on your triggers for the symptoms.

Springtime asthma triggers include:

  • Insect repellants
  • Pollen
  • Temperature changes
  • Yard fertilizers

“Often if asthma is worse in the spring, it’s because of underlying allergens contributing to symptoms or because individual is increasing their activity levels,” Dr. Hoersten shares. “If allergies are the cause, use my previous recommendations about controlling seasonal allergies to see if it helps your asthma.”

But if you think your asthma symptoms are worsening due to increased exercise, Dr. Hoersten advises to contact your primary care provider.

“In general, if patients are needing their rescue inhaler more than twice a week, or if they are having symptoms limiting their daily activities more than twice per week, they should talk to their primary care provider about possibly making a change to their medication regimen.”

Spring colds

It may seem strange, but spring is a peak time for the common cold.

“Cold symptoms can present similarly to allergies, and sometimes it is an overlapped picture where patients have allergies, but also develop a common cold,” Dr. Hoersten explains.As a reminder, common colds are typically caused by viruses and do not usually require antibiotics. Symptoms can be treated as needed with over-the-counter treatments.”

To avoid catching a cold in the first place, keep washing your hands frequently and avoid anyone who is sick. Also, try your best to not touch your eyes, nose and mouth throughout the day.

“I do recommend that you reach out to your provider if you have questions about what type of treatment is appropriate, as it is important to consider underlying medical issues that can interact with some medications,” Dr. Hoersten adds. “And if you are battling a cold, increase your water intake and get plenty of rest. If your symptoms persist more than seven to 10 days, your fever is greater than 100.6 degrees Fahrenheit or your symptoms initially improved then became worse again, reach out to your primary care provider.”

Bug and insect bites

The start of outdoor sports, barbecues and gardening are all a part of spring. However, so are bugs and insects.

“The spring and summer do place individuals at higher risk for these bites,” Dr. Hoersten says.

As you start spending more time outdoors, stay vigilant about using insect repellant to avoid pesky bug bites. Also, when out in wooden areas, wear long pants, long sleeves and a hat.

“If you are going camping or hiking in a wooded area, various ticks may also be present,” Dr. Hoersten shares. “So, it’s important to check your skin for any ticks after these exposures as they can attach or bite individuals and may carry certain diseases.”

If you are concerned that your might have been bitten by a tick, it is important to talk to your primary care provider to determine if treatment is needed.

Exercise injuries

Exercise injuries are common during the spring as people hop back into outdoor workouts. Before any physical activity, make sure to stretch and warm up your muscles. Also, don’t forget to cool down afterwards.

“Individuals who are just starting an exercise regimen should focus on slowly increasing activity as tolerated,” Dr. Hoersten adds. “Overuse injuries are common if individuals ramp up their exercise regimens too quickly. If this does happen, rest is important to allow proper healing.”


Did you know you can be overexposed to UV rays even on cloudy days? So, during the spring and leading into the summer months, make sure to protect yourself from the sun.

“The best piece of advice for people of all ages is to apply sunscreen daily.” Dr. Hoersten shares. “Sunscreen is safe to apply on individuals 6 months and older. For adults, applying sunscreen to the face daily as part of a morning routine not only protects from sunburn, but it also helps protect skin against aging.”

Always wear at least SPF 30 sunscreen when you’re outside and apply it 30 minutes beforehand. Reapply it every two hours, or more often if you’re sweating or swimming. Wearing sunglasses and hats helps, too.

With just a few safety measures, you can avoid spring health issues or keep them from becoming bigger problems.

And as for what Dr. Hoersten enjoys most about the spring season?

“I really enjoy spring because it really represents a season of new life and growth. The days are getting longer and the weather is getting warmer. This provides more opportunities to take advantage of outdoor activities. With the longer days and more sunshine, people also just tend to be a little bit happier as they come out of the darker winter months. Similarly, spring feels like a time to refresh and restart – to kick bad habits and work on implementing healthier new habits as we look toward the summer.”

Learn about the primary care services we provide at Mercy Health.

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