Warmer weather means allergy season is on the way

WASHINGTON — Allergy season is heading the way, and the balmy temperatures of recent days are a strong reminder that the time to take preventative measures is now.

“People are just starting to feel it,” says Dr. Rachel Schreiber, an allergist in Rockville, Maryland.

She says she is starting to see patients with symptoms of tree pollen allergies. And while it is far too early to tell just how bad the coming allergy season will be, Schreiber says a few days of warm temperatures are “all we need to set off the pollen cascade.”

The important thing is to start treating tree and grass pollen allergies before the season gets really bad. For trees, that is usually sometime in April for the D.C. area, with grasses hitting their peak in May.

“This is really the time of year — right now — when you want to get ahead of it,” says Schreiber.

The bottom line is it is much easier to prep for allergy seasons before the pollen is released in the air, triggering an inflammatory response. Schreiber say once that occurs, “it is much harder to reign it back in.”

Early treatment usually involves antihistamines, maybe nasal steroids or eye drops. If they provide no relief, the next step is immunotherapy, or desensitizing the body to an allergen.

Traditionally, it has been done by injection. But now there are two sublingual tablets available that work well for grass allergies. For many, especially children, these tablets provide a welcome alternative to shots. But this form of immunotherapy needs three months to take effect, which means the window for protection for this grass allergy season is closing now.

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