Winter isn’t officially over until next week but allergy season is already arriving in Nebraska as the trees are starting to pollinate.
Dr. Jill Poole, an allergist at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, says allergy sufferers are already beginning to feel the effects.
Dr. Poole says, “This is the time of year when the trees start and so this is the exact time for them to get their allergy medications out of the cabinet and start their nose sprays and antihistamines to try to fend off the allergy symptoms before they get behind the eight ball.”
While everyone’s body is affected a little differently, Poole says tree pollen hits many people in similar ways.
“Sneezing, nasal congestion, itchy nose, itchy, watery eyes are the main symptoms that can be experienced now,” she says.
Known as seasonal allergic rhinitis, allergies are reactions of the body’s immune system to a normally harmless substance.
Poole, an associate professor in the UNMC Department of Internal Medicine, says you’ll know it if you have a tree pollen allergy.
“If you’re having the classic symptoms of the itchy nose, the sneezing, the itchy, watery eyes that start in March and get real bad in April, that’s really indicative of allergies and you can start taking over-the-counter medications,” she says. “If those don’t hold you or work well for you, that’s the time to get allergy tested.”
Between 20 and 40% of Americans suffer from seasonal allergies. Poole offers a few tips on how to lessen the uncomfortable effects of allergies.
“Tree pollen is pretty hardy and once it gets in the home, it can be a longer-lasting pollen,” she says. “By closing the windows, that will keep the pollen from being in your bedroom where you’re sleeping and spending a lot of the time. After you’ve been outside, changing your clothes or washing your hands and face can be helpful.”
She also recommends over-the-counter nasal-sinus irrigations and over-the-counter antihistamines that are the non-sedating.
Learn more about allergies at the website of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology: www.aaaai.org