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Sign of Spring: Allergies Kicking In

March 21, 2013

By Jamie Lampros

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March 21--Even though astronomical winter is barely over, you might already be sneezing. With the recent warmer weather, symptoms of seasonal allergies have started budding right along with the trees.

This is the time of year when trees start to pollinate, said Dr. Douglas Jones, a physician at Rocky Mountain Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.

"Typical symptoms include itchy, watery eyes, sneezing, nasal congestion, persistent cough or a `cold` that won`t go away," Jones said. "Also, some people may experience increased shortness of breath and wheezing if they have asthma as well."

Almost 50 million Americans suffer from allergies, according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. More than 40 million of those have seasonal allergies, and the longer the weather is warm, the longer you might sneeze and wheeze.

In addition, according to a recent study published in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, pollen counts slowly rise every year and are expected to double by the year 2040, so when every year is being labeled as "the worst for allergy symptoms," there`s actually some truth to that statement.

But there`s no reason anyone shouldn`t be able to go outside and have a peaceful night`s sleep. There is relief, but knowing exactly what triggers your allergies is important.

"There is so much marketing involved in allergy products and advice. People can spend a lot of time and money on products that may not really help them," Jones said.

Jones said there are highly affective allergy shots that change the immune system to make people significantly less allergic, and potentially nonallergic. There are also some great medications that can treat the symptoms.

"Newer antihistamines such as Allegra and Zyrtec are great over-the-counter medications to start taking for symptom control," Jones said. "They are more effective with far less side effects than older antihistamines like Benadryl. Benadryl can be more impairing than the disease itself."

If symptoms persist beyond over-the-counter medications, Jones said, there are several effective prescription drugs, depending on the symptoms.

If you don`t get seasonal allergies, but still find yourself with symptoms, it may be from your beloved pet. Dogs and cats shed hair year -round, but shed more when the weather starts to warm up, which can be miserable for people who are allergic to their dander.

"Allergy shots are an effective treatment," Jones said. "My motto is, why get rid of the cat when you can get rid of the allergy?"

Jones said, washing your pet, especially the cat, at least once a week is an effective way to reduce dander. Keeping cats out of the bedroom can also help reduce symptoms, he said.

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(c)2013 The Standard-Examiner, Ogden, Utah

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Story image: In this file photo, an Italian bee collects pollen from a poppy flower at Dustin Gimbel`s home in Long Beach, Calif.AP Photo/The Orange County Register, Joshua Sudock

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