Sneezing? Coughing? How to get ahead of springtime allergies

Many people may enjoy the warmer temperatures ahead of spring, but one consequence of the mild days for allergy sufferers is an early release of pollen from trees.

Elm, cedar maple and cypress trees are among the early pollen droppers that believe spring has arrived, according to Dr. Rachel Schreiber of Schreiber Allergy in Rockville, Maryland.

“We’re seeing some of highest levels of tree pollen in March that we’ve seen in 20 years,” Schreiber said.

For many allergy sufferers, Schreiber said the pollen will bring on itching of the eyes, nose, skin, mouth and ears. Also a runny or stuffy nose, sneezing and puffy eyes could also be a sign of an allergic reaction to the pollen.

And for some, more severe symptoms, including coughing, shortness of breath, wheezing and asthma flare ups, can also come from exposure to the allergens.

“We are just really at the beginning of the season. I hate to say it, but it is going to get worse as the temperatures rise,” Schreiber said.

For people who know they suffer from springtime allergies, Schreiber said they should begin taking their allergy medicines before the season kicks into full swing.

“Once that inflammation is set in motion, it’s much harder to reign it back in,” Schreiber said.

While many allergy medicines are available over the counter, Schreiber does believe allergy sufferers should consult with an allergist to figure out which is best for them. In some cases, allergy shots can also be used to boost a sufferer’s tolerance to the allergens which affect them the most.

The next important step for pollen allergy sufferers is keeping the stuff out of the home. Even with pleasant temperatures, home windows shouldn’t be opened because that lets the pollen in.

“If your windows are open, you’ve got pollen coming into your house and your house is becoming a pollen collector,” said Schreiber.

After walks, dogs should be wiped down to get fallen pollen off their fur. Also, stop from bringing the pollen into bed by taking a shower before laying down.

She also recommends allergy sufferers make bedrooms a refuge from allergens by cleaning and dusting frequently and installing a HEPA air purifier to clean the air.

Bottom line, Schreiber said, even though many trees may still be bare, you should prepare now for allergy season.

“Even though you may not be seeing things that are flowering yet, it’s coming,” Schreiber said.

Mike Murillo

Mike Murillo is a reporter and anchor at WTOP. Before joining WTOP in 2013, he worked in radio in Orlando, New York City and Philadelphia.

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