After a long hard winter in much of the U.S. most people are looking forward to spring. But for allergy sufferers, the change in seasons may bring a new set of miseries.
AFC/Doctors Express, a company operating urgent care centers across the U.S., reports its physicians are already seeing an increase in patients seeking allergy relief. It says the spring of 2015 has the potential to become “the worst allergy season ever.”
The company says the unusually warm fall, followed by an unusually wet winter, has ratcheted up pollen production. When plants are under stress they make more flowers and fewer leaves, resulting in more pollen.
Other clinics and doctors offices are also seeing an uptick in allergy symptoms – mostly sneezing, watery eyes and fatigue.
March through May
“Our area of the country typically experiences high tree pollen levels from March through May,” said Dr. Marjorie Slankard, Director of Allergy and Immunology at The Valley Hospital in Ridgewood, N.J. “This year’s colder weather may have delayed the process a bit, but now that the warmer weather has hit pollen levels are expected to shoot up.”
The American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) says more than 40 million Americans suffer from seasonal allergies and agrees with AFC/Doctors Express that this could be one of the worst seasons we have seen for tree pollen.
The good news for those with allergies is there are ways to reduce your symptoms and suffering. Slankard offers these tips:
- Know your triggers. It may not be pollen that is making you sneeze. Talk to your doctor, who may refer you to an allergist who can conduct tests to narrow down the source of your symptoms.
- Treat before you sneeze. If allergy symptoms are a rite of spring for you, start taking over the counter medication about a week before they typically start, or as soon as the pollen count starts to rise in your area.
- Keep up with the pollen and mold counts. Many media sources report this information during allergy seasons so make it part of your daily news diet, along with weather and traffic reports.
- Keep indoor air clean. Your home should remain your refuge from the pollen outdoors. Use air conditioning and keep windows and doors shut at home, and in your car during allergy season.
- Avoid the great outdoors. You can't become a hermit but staying inside as much as you can from 6 to 10 a.m. and 4 to 6 p.m., when pollen counts are highest, will help.
- Keep the pollen outside. When you've been outside for extended periods of time, take a shower, wash hair and change clothing when you come inside.
- Delegate outdoor chores. Most people like this advice. Hire someone to mow the lawn, or if you have to do it at least wear a mask.
- Stay properly medicated. If over-the-counter remedies aren't enough, see your doctor. For many people, avoiding allergens and taking over-the-counter medications is enough to ease symptoms. But if your seasonal allergies are still bothersome, you may need additional treatment.