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Staying Active and in Control Despite Their Allergies

Meet four people with allergies who combine medication, alternative therapies, and the right attitude to maintain control over their lives.

Fred Coe: Keeping Allergies Off the Court continued...

"I've always been real active -- hyperactive, actually," says Coe, who is now 61 and living in Knoxville, Tenn. But, he says, as a youth growing up in Chattanooga, without the allergy medications and types of treatment available now, it was a struggle. Add to the mix of challenges two parents who each smoked three packs of Lucky Strikes per day and the chances for drawing an easy breath got slimmer and slimmer.

But Coe, whose desire to be active couldn’t be quelled, has embraced modern medical perspectives on how to face down his allergies. He says he often wakes up sneezing. When he does, he immediately takes his over-the-counter allergy medication. He has an inhaler in case breathing becomes too difficult. For more than a decade, he received injections each month to combat allergens.

These measures are all necessary because the asphalt calls. Coe is an avid walker and an avid basketball player. Last month, he logged 120 miles trekking around Knoxville. Add to that his penchant for yard work and he hardly seems like a man once cocooned because of his allergies.

Now enjoying his retirement, Coe says his lifestyle can be attributed to careful monitoring, healthy behaviors, and awareness. "I try not to let [allergies] control my life," Coe says. "Sometimes I have to be careful. My wife usually rakes the leaves. There's a lot of dust involved so I don't try to do that." He says avoiding situations that could cause his symptoms to flare is key. Cold weather, for instance, sets him off. So he bundles up when there's a chill. He's never smoked, and he avoids people who do. He also keeps a healthy distance from his wife's cats. They cause his eyes to run and sneezes to erupt.

Despite all of these precautions, Coe says he could take even more measures to make his environment more suited for an allergy sufferer. But until his condition proves to be more problematic, he'll likely be found on the court or making the rounds during one of his walks.

"A lot of people are a lot more careful than I am,” he says. ”And I probably should be. But I'm not going to let it control my life. I'm going to do what I want to do."

Sylvana Sok: Not Limited by Allergies

Moving to Atlanta seemed like a terrific opportunity for Sylvana Sok. That is, until the 30-year-old discovered that the varieties of Georgia foliage turned the sunny outdoors into an obstacle course for her health. "It turned out I was allergic to every grass down south," she says. "I love to be outside even though I'm allergic to everything."

In addition to trees, pollen and ragweed, dust, mold, and mildew can also throw her for a loop. But she refuses to allow her allergies to prevent her from exercising and being active, especially since Atlanta's parks and trails are a real treat for any runner. With organization, alternative exercise, and medication, she's determined to keep her allergies at bay.

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