Kellie Pickler Talks Allergies, the End of ‘American Idol’ and her own Reality Show


Originally published April 21, 2016, on Healthline Contributors, which no longer is live. Reprinted with permission.

By David Heitz

What’s a country girl to do when she has allergies?

When you’re a hot country superstar like Kellie Pickler, allergies can be a huge problem.

“I’ll end up looking emotional on stage,” Pickler told me in a 20-minute telephone interview on Thursday. “I’ll be singing a happy song and my eyes are watering, my allergies would get so bad.”

Now, Pickler turns to Flonase. She says Nashville is one of the worst places in the U.S. for allergies, with pollen dumping down onto the town “like a bowl.”

“If you’ve got a black car, it’s soon to be yellow,” said Pickler, who undoubtedly qualifies along with Kelly Clarkson as one of the “darlings” of “American Idol.”

Pickler, Clarkson and a host of other “AI” alumni (include teeny-bopper heartthrob Scotty McCreery) performed a country medley for the ultimate “Idol” finale April 7.

Related Healthline Content: Nasal and Oral Corticosteroids for Allergies

Although Pickler did not emerge the winner of Season 5, like so many runner-ups in the show she has gone on to find great success.

She has her own reality shown on CMT called “I Love Kellie Pickler.” In one recent episode, she decides she wants to have some chickens for pets, much to the chagrin of her husband (who went along anyway) but who also is allergic to almost everything.

“Oh, he’s really stocked up!” on the Flonase, Kellie said, as she is known for bringing home just about every animal that crosses her path.

Related Healthline Content: All you need to know about Pollen Allergies

Flonase is an over-the-counter medicine that used to only be available by prescription. Pickler is traveling the nation this spring hopping from one itchy-sneezy-watery-eye town to another with the social media sensation the Eh Bees, a cutesy family that has gone viral on social media.

The road trip kicked off April 18 in New York City and will end April 30 in Austin, Texas, where Kellie will reconnect with the Eh Bees at the iHeartCountry Festival.

An American Idol Fan-atic Myself

When celebrities are on the circuit pitching a product, I don’t always say yes to an interview. But there is no way I could pass up chatting with Pickler. Back in my drinking days, I was known to “accidentally” trip over the juke box cord when someone dare play it while “American Idol” was on at the tavern.

Back in those days, I penned a regular blog for the Quad-City Times in Davenport, Iowa, called “Idol Chatter.” One year, after Season 6 (the season after Pickler), I got to meet all of the “Idol” finalists and conduct one-on-one interviews with them. Sanjaya Malakar (remember him, with the wacky hair?) and Melinda Doolittle provided particularly interesting color during our chats. The winner that year was Jordin Sparks, who gushed to me about Paula Abdul. You can read the story here.

“Idol” also has a connection to my hometown, the Quad-Cities, because “Idol” hair guru Dean Banowetz hails from nearby DeWitt, Iowa (no wonder Sanjaya’s hair had so much personality). Pickler said she also worked with Banowetz.

Related Healthline Content: What you need to know about Ragweed Allergies

The next year, a young man named Leo Marlowe from nearby Charlotte, Iowa, a tiny town, made it to Hollywood. He had a few minutes of audition fame but did not land in the top 50. Still, I enjoyed reporting his journey as well.

Drowsiness an unwanted side effect for a performer

Back to Pickler’s chickens, I explained to Kellie that my friends Jim and Joe had a couple of chickens, Little and Peepers, but they died. She said one of hers died too and suggested they don’t really have a very long life expectancy.

About then Kellie’s representatives on the conference call gave me a two-minute warning, so I asked a question drawing upon my own experience with allergies. As a performer, don’t other allergy medicines, particularly those in pill form, cause drowsiness?

Pickler said yes, they do. “I’ve never had a side effect from Flonase. Some nasal sprays can make you drowsy, too. I’d look funny falling asleep on stage!”

Nasal Corticosteroids do have some side effects, and you can read about them here.

I wondered what the final “Idol” finale was like. After all, “American Idol” had one of the most legendary runs in American television history. I told her I used to get goosebumps when Ryan Seacrest would say, “THIS is American Idol!”

She called the 15-season farewell special “a circus, but a good kind of crazy.”

And like me, she’s not convinced that “American Idol” is gone forever. “I just don’t know,” Pickler said.

Meanwhile, you can follow the Eh Bee Family on their trip to five allergy-laden cities at and discuss your own allergy issues on social media using the hashtag #BeGreater.

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