Experts say prepare for spring allergies now

Wicked winter could mean more severe allergy season


After a long, brutal winter in much of the United States, many plan to welcome spring with open arms.

But the beautiful flowers, green grass and budding trees will leave millions of allergy sufferers feeling lousy from the pollen.

"I typically wake up in the morning, have a kind of scratchy throat, my sinuses are filled up, and a lot of times my eyes are swollen and red," said allergy patient Winnie Wright.

Doctors say the right allergy medicine will help many with mild to moderate symptoms.

"If you're suffering from runny nose, sneezing and itchy eyes, I will recommend an antihistamine med for your symptoms, but if nasal congestion is an issue then it's a decongestant that may be more helpful," said Dr. Erinn Gardner from the Atlanta Allergy & Asthma Clinic.

Experts say if you think ahead and start allergy medications before you experience symptoms, you may prevent them entirely or at least reduce their severity.

When these efforts don't seem to be helping, it may be time for allergy shots.

"Allergy shots are nice in that they help you build an immunity to the things you're allergic to, so that over time, we see a decrease in symptoms," said Gardner.

It can also help to keep the windows closed and the air conditioning on to reduce your exposure to the pollen. Another trick -- if you've been outdoors for a while, take a shower when you come in. It will help wash away excess pollen.

Some experts are predicting the extreme winter weather may lead to a particularly bad spring allergy season.

"It's been very wet and with wet, the trees take in more water. When the trees take in more water, they thrive. When they thrive, they release more pollen," said allergist Dr. Stanley Fineman. "We're concerned that it might be more severe for people who have springtime pollen allergies."

All the more reason to make an appointment with your allergy doctor asap.