Early burst of spring aggravates allergy sufferers

Before most people even notice buds on the trees, seasonal allergy sufferers feel it. Allergy season is here, and the...

Posted: Feb 22, 2018 12:08 AM
Updated: Feb 22, 2018 12:08 AM

Before most people even notice buds on the trees, seasonal allergy sufferers feel it. Allergy season is here, and these warm days we're experiencing only make conditions worse.

Just ask 7-year-old Hannah Garton.

"I get really scratchy," Hannah said, when asked whether she enjoys the springtime. "I like it, and I don't like it because it's allergy season, and I really don't like the allergies."

"You start to get the feeling in the sinuses like it's going to explode," said her father Dan, who also suffers from severe allergies. He said the headaches and itchy eyes hit him hard when he first moved to the Atlanta area from out West.

"I never knew there were so many types of trees and weeds until I moved out here and got an allergy test, and now I'm allergic to all of them," he said.

Dan and Hannah get regular allergy shots to control their symptoms.

"Atlanta is the city in the forest," said Dr. Kathleen Sheerin, an allergist with Atlanta Allergy & Asthma.

Sheerin said it's not unusual for Atlanta to experience an earlier burst of spring than cities in other parts of the country. She says for most people, over-the-counter medicines and eye drops provide relief.

"We used to have nothing, but now you have the Claritins, the Zrtecs, the Allegras, you can have allergy eye drops over the counter," said Sheerin.

However, sometimes, Sheerin said, over-the-counter medicines aren't enough.

"Certainly, if I hear, 'I just don't go outside in the spring,' that's no way to live. We can really improve your quality of life. Come see us."

Wednesday's pollen count in Atlanta was 148 grains of pollen per cubic meter of air -- a mere fraction of the level we expect to see in March and April. Still, allergists say, it only takes a small amount of a pollen to irritate an allergic person.

Does this mean allergy sufferers are in for a miserable existence from now until the end of spring?

"Who knows? We may have another blast of cold air," said Sheerin. "What happens then -- it doesn't kill the pollen. It just kind of shuts the production off, and then it picks up again."

The bottom line? Get ready. This is just the beginning of metro Atlanta's allergy season, which -- for those with grass allergies -- could last until June.

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