Prepare for pollen: Allergy sufferers should get ready for spring now

WASHINGTON — Winter may still be here, but allergy sufferers should prepare for what is expected to be a rough spring season.

“The pollen is about to come out in full force,” said Dr. Rachel Schreiber with Schreiber Allergy in Rockville, Maryland.

The moisture from the weekend’s snow and rain has tree and plant pollen primed and ready to come out when warmer temperatures arrive this week, Schreiber said.

That means even before spring officially arrives, allergy sufferers will begin sneezing and coughing, and get watery or itchy eyes as their bodies react to the pollen.

Come spring, Schreiber said, trees such as the elm and cypress will be the first to let the allergens fly. They’ll be followed by oak and birch trees in mid to late April.

Grass pollen will come into play when May arrives.

Schreiber recommends that people who typically suffer from seasonal allergies begin taking allergy medications now to prevent inflammation. “Once the allergic cascade starts and gets out of control, it’s much harder to rein that inflammation back in,” she said.

With a number of over-the-counter medicines on the market, Schreiber said it is important for a person to check with their doctor about which one is best for them.

Another option includes nasal irrigation with devices such as a Neti pot. The devices do come with a warning to only use distilled or boiled water, which has cooled when making the saline mix, according to Schreiber.

Prevention is also important this time of year. Keeping windows closed during the spring is important because it reduces the number of outside allergens that make it inside.

“You really never get a respite from the outside if your windows are open,” Schreiber said.

When coming into the house for the day, consider changing from clothing worn outside and also take a shower before going to bed. “If you’re walking outside, the pollen lands on your hair and on your eyes and in your airways, and you want to try to control that exposure as much as possible,” Schreiber said.

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