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Allergy Season in Full Swing

The flowers are growing, the trees are blooming, and many allergy sufferers  feel miserable. After the especially cold winter, experts are predicting a bad spring for those allergic to tree pollen and grass. For relief, allergist Dr. Deeba Masood with Northshore Medical Group suggested starting with avoidance measures.

"Sleeping with the windows closed, driving with the windows up," she mentioned. "When you come in from the outside, wash from head to toe, change of clothing."

She said salt-water rinses are very helpful in removing pollen from the lining of the nose. If those measures are not enough, Masood said, try over-the-counter antihistamines, which can help with sneezing, a runny nose, and itchy eyes, or steroid nasal sprays, which will decrease the swelling of the nasal passages. It's estimated that about a quarter of the population suffers from seasonal allergies.

If medication isn't doing the trick, Masood suggested contacting your doctor for other options.

"If you want more of a long-term solution or if you can't avoid that particular allergen, then we recommend the immunotherapy, which is where we give you small incremental shots of what you are allergic to, and in time you become tolerant," she said.

Masood added that it's important to address allergy symptoms when they first occur so they don't progress to something more serious, such as a sinus infection or problem in the lower airways.

"There's a connection between the upper airway and the lower airways," she pointed out. "So, if the upper airways are inflamed due to allergies, then the lower airways, they tend to be inflamed as well, and you may develop asthma over time."