(BPT) - April’s showers bring May flowers but they also bring on sneezing, runny noses and watery eyes for some of the 50 million Americans with allergies. The spring allergy season begins in some regions of the country as early as February and can last into the summer months.
The most common spring allergy culprits are pollens from a variety of trees and grasses, as well as mold, according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI).
“Because there can be millions of pollen particles and mold spores in the air, finding allergy relief can seem nearly impossible for some,” says allergist Dr. Michael Foggs, ACAAI president. “But by knowing what triggers your allergy symptoms and how to avoid these allergens, you can be on your way to a sneeze-free season.”
Knowing more about the spring allergy season can also help you fight symptoms. ACAAI allergists have put together the five things you should know about spring allergies.
* Allergies are on the rise - Every year more adults and children are diagnosed with allergies. There are several speculations about this increase, including climate changes and increased allergy awareness. Studies have also shown pollen counts are gradually increasing. Even if you’ve never had allergies in the past, you can develop them at any time. That lingering cold may be allergies and you should see your local board-certified allergist for testing and treatment.
* It matters when you medicate - If you fall victim to spring allergies annually, you should begin taking your medication two weeks before symptoms typically begin. Keep an eye on the pollen counts in your area. Even if the temperature doesn’t feel like spring, there could already be pollen circulating in the air. To be better prepared, you can track your symptoms with MyNasalAllergyJournal.org.
* There isn’t a cure, but there is something close - Unfortunately, there is no cure for spring allergies. However, immunotherapy (allergy shots) provides symptom relief while modifying and preventing disease progression. Immunotherapy can also be tailored for an individual’s needs. So if you’re allergic to pollens, dust and pets, allergy shots can provide you with relief from these allergens.
* Symptoms can be severe - Runny noses, itchy eyes and sneezing aren’t the only symptoms of spring allergies. If you are coughing, wheezing and have trouble breathing, asthma might be one of your allergy symptoms. In fact, an estimated 75-85 percent of asthma sufferers have at least one allergy. Asthma attacks can be life-threatening. Aside from avoiding allergens, you should also be under the regular care of an allergist and use medications as prescribed.
* When in doubt, get checked out - Not every cough is due to a respiratory infection. And colds shouldn’t be blamed for every runny nose. If you find yourself battling unwanted symptoms for more than two weeks, it is likely time to see an allergist to get tested, diagnosed and treated. Allergies and asthma are serious diseases and that’s “nothing to sneeze at.” Misdiagnosis and inappropriate treatment can be dangerous.