Archive for Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Allergies make an early appearance this year

March 21, 2012

Achoo. Sniffle. Sniffle.

Allergy season arrived a few weeks earlier this year but it’s not as bad as it was a few years ago when pollen counts were 10 times higher than normal.

Dr. Warren Frick, of Asthma Allergy & Rheumatology Associates in Lawrence, described the season thus far as pretty typical but early. He said wind can make allergies worse, while rain will make them less severe.

His suggestions for helping to reduce symptoms include:

• Avoid the outdoor activities in the mornings when pollen counts are highest.

• Keep windows and the indoors closed.

• Run central air system fan so it pulls air through the filter and can help filter out pollen.

• Bathe pets. If your pets spend a lot of time outdoors, bathe them if you are going to let them in.

• Try over-the-counter eye drops and antihistamines like Allegra, Zyrtec and Claritin. “If that’s not cutting it, patients should seek prescription medicine where there’s many more options,” Frick said.

Hy-Vee pharmacist Cody Poell said he has seen allergy sufferers earlier this season too, and some have mistaken the symptoms as a cold.

“A lot of people think they have colds because they’ve got that nasal drainage that drips down the back of their throat, but a lot of times it’s just the allergies. They just kicked in so early,” he said.

In Bonner Springs, DeGoler’s pharmacist Mark Theno said they have had a run on allergy medications since the warm weather set in a couple of weeks ago — both the over-the-counter items mentioned above and prescription items like Flonase nasal sprays.

“I don’t think people were prepared for it yet — they were looking for it a month down the road,” Theno said.

Frick said allergy symptoms include: itchy, watery, swollen, red eyes; a runny, stuffy, itchy nose; sneezing; itchy throat; itching deep in the ear; and coughing. He said it’s allergies when nasal discharge is clear and the symptoms last longer than a few days or a week. Colds typically involve fevers or chills and allergies do not.

Spring allergies are a result of pollen from trees which can start pollinating between January and April. The trees that are causing allergies in the area now are juniper, elm, mulberry, maple and ash.

— Caroline Boyer contributed to this story.

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