Monday, April 06, 2009

Spring Is Here and So Is Allergy Season

FF Note: Springtime has certainly come to Fayette County. For the next few weeks, our citizens are subject to having "yellow car" syndrome. This syndrome is caused by the clouds of yellow pollen flying around in the air and will make any surface yellow. Itchy eyes and sore throats seem to be the order of the day for both non-allergy and allergy sufferers. But alas, we are blessed to have the pollen as we also have some of the most beautiful spring flowers around. This year, we've been especially grateful for the rain as it helps keep the pollen clouds at a livable level.

(SPM Wire) Many of us look forward to the warmer, breezy, sunny days of spring, but the season also brings with it the dreaded itchy eyes, scratchy ears and throat, and sneezing for allergy sufferers.

"Tree pollen blown around by the wind is the allergen people will react to first this season, sometimes before you see the buds," explains Dr. Catherine Monteleone, an associate professor of medicine at the UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and a board-certified allergist. "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 such symptoms into June, a reaction to grass pollen, not blooming flowers. "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," she says.

Those beginning to experience symptoms should turn to appropriate medications before symptoms become severe.

"Don't wait until you're miserable," Monteleone warns. "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."

Allergy sufferers should try to avoid exposure to allergens. Keep your car and house windows closed. When going outside, wear sunglasses to shield your eyes from pollen and do outdoor activities later in the day, because pollen is released early. When you get back home, shower, wash your hair, and change clothing because pollen will stick to you.

Otherwise, avoid anything that may cause irritation, such as strong perfumes or tobacco smoke, advises Monteleone.

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