Spring Arrives Bringing Allergies

After a bitterly cold and snowy winter, many look forward to the warmer, breezy, sunny days of this new season. With the arrival of spring also comes the dreaded itchy eyes, scratchy ears and throat and sneezing, all symptoms of allergies.

“Tree pollen blown around by the wind is the allergen people will react to first this season, sometimes before you see the buds,� Catherine Monteleone, MD, associate professor of medicine at the UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and a board-certified allergist explained in a news release. “Patients already are complaining about symptoms, including runny nose, nasal congestion, sneezing, itchy eyes, ears and throat, wheezing and shortness of breath.�

People may continue to experience those symptoms into May and June, which is a reaction to grass pollen, not blooming flowers.

“We’ve had enough precipitation for big and hardy blooms,� Monteleone said, “But how much grass pollen is produced will depend upon the weather this spring. Dry, windy days cause pollen to spread and result in more severe allergy symptoms.�

Monteleone explained those beginning to experience symptoms should turn to appropriate medications before symptoms become severe.

“Don’t wait until you’re miserable,� she warned. “Try over-the-counter medications and if those don’t work, see your doctor, who can prescribe medication that may be more helpful. Don’t give up on treatment because there is something out there that will help.�

She also suggested that allergy sufferers avoid exposure to allergens as well as anything that may cause irritation, such as strong perfumes or tobacco smoke.

“Keep windows closed in the car and at home and if necessary, keep the air conditioner on,� Monteleone said. “If you have to be outside, wear sunglasses to shield your eyes from pollen, do activities later in the day because pollen is released early. When you return home, shower, wash your hair and change your clothes because the pollen will stick to you.�

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