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Doctors Say Allergy Season Is Starting Earlier And Lasting Longer

Kate Merrill, WBZ-TV
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(Photo credit SAMUEL KUBANI/AFP/Getty Images)

(Photo credit SAMUEL KUBANI/AFP/Getty Images)

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For The Ladies

BOSTON (CBS) It’s a big number, 40 million Americans suffer from seasonal allergies. Now it appears the allergy season is starting earlier, and lasting longer.

While the sight of buds on trees is a happy sign of spring for many people, it’s a sign of impending misery for Honor Vincent. It just means she will be reaching for the tissues.

WBZ-TV’s Kate Merrill reports

“I constantly rinse my eyes out,” she said. “I felt like a couple of times I was having an asthma attack. I think my allergies have gotten worse.”

Dr. Cascya Charlot says allergists across the country are reporting more allergic attacks in spring. She added the symptoms are harsher, including nasal congestion, coughing, and watery eyes.

“What we are seeing is not only an increase in the severity of typical rhinitis symptoms, but we are also seeing an increase in the co-morbid conditions that can present with seasonal allergies, conditions such as asthma, eczema, and even hives,” explained Doctor Charlot.

Climate change could be playing a role too. Research has found that spring allergies are now starting earlier and lasting longer. That creates a tough situation for anyone who wants to be outdoors.

“Some patients are unable to function, aren’t able to go to school, or to go to work. Over the counter medications seem to not be helpful in some patients,” said Doctor Charlot.

Some allergists develop a treatment plan with both “over the counter” drugs, and prescriptions. Allergy shots are another option.

“Allergy shots are a way to desensitize the body to what the body is allergic to, so we’re seeing a lot more patients opt for that,” said Doctor Charlot.

That’s the route Honor is now taking. “I hope with the allergy shots eventually I will not have to take any medication, and that my symptoms will cease,” she explained.

It can also pay to track pollen counts. “Pollen is usually at its highest level in the early morning, between 6am-9am,” added Doctor Charlot.

There are a couple of things you can do before you go back inside. Take off your shoes and change your clothes for starters. And consider washing your hair so that pollen won’t bother you.

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