By Dr. Mallika Marshall, WBZ-TVBy Dr. Mallika Marshall

BOSTON (CBS) – After our harsh winter, the spring allergy season could be one of the worst in recent memory.

Jake van den Herick, a 12-year-old from Lexington, is already seeing his allergist to try and prevent an onslaught of the usual symptoms.

“I get a stuffy nose, runny nose, sometimes headaches,” he said.

So what is setting up this season to be so bad?

The cold weather has stunted the growth of all kinds of vegetation.

Read: Shorter, More Severe Allergy Season Predicted

WBZ-TV Chief Meteorologist Eric Fisher added this perspective on just how cold it has been:  “January, February, and March were the coldest start to a year that we’ve ever seen across the area.”

The fear is all the pollen will emerge at the same time, overwhelming allergy sufferers.

As of now, the number of allergy patients coming into the offices of Dr. John Saryan, Chief of Allergy and Immunology at Lahey Hospital and Medical Center in Burlington, hasn’t peaked yet.

That is not a good sign, however.

“The longer we go without patients complaining, the more I think that’s going to be a fairly intense season, squeezed into a shorter period of time,” he said.

This could mean a lot of people looking for relief.  Allergies are the sixth leading cause of chronic illness in this country.

Dr. Saryan suggests patients who have known problems with allergies start taking their medication early.

“Often many patients hwo do the combination of the (nasal steroid) spray and the antihistamine can do extremely well during the season and really have a much less symptomatic season by getting on top of it early,” he told WBZ.

Non-medicinal habits can also help, like showering before bed to keep pollen off bedding.

Larry van den Herik, Jake’s dad, takes some additional actions such as keeping doors and windows closed to keep the pollen out of the house.

“We make sure he takes off his dirty clothes and puts on clean clothes.”

“I feel like it might be difficult at times, but I will probably fight thru it,” added Jake.

Dr. Mallika Marshall

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