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Spring brutal for allergy sufferers

A bee pollenates flowers in front of a house in Old Town. As flowers begin to bloom, allergies also become a problem for many Alabama residents. (Josh Bergeron | Times-Journal)

A bee pollenates flowers in front of a house in Old Town. As flowers begin to bloom, allergies also become a problem for many Alabama residents. (Josh Bergeron | Times-Journal)

With winter weather gone, flowers and trees are blooming throughout Dallas County, but spring brings a yellow dusting that can cause, swollen eyes, sneezing and a runny nose. 

Roughly 1 in 5 Americans or 60 million suffer from asthma and any type of allergy, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. Of that population, 40 million suffer from indoor or outdoor allergies.

Tree pollen is a primary problem for allergy sufferers during the spring, according Dr. Richard Waguespack, an ear, nose and throat specialist and clinical professor at the University of Alabama — Birmingham.

“If someone is reacting to tree pollen, as soon as hardwoods begin to bloom those symptoms would start,” Waguespack said. “The most common symptoms are sneezing, clear nasal discharge and itching in the eyes and nose. Some seasons are worse than others.”

Some common solutions for allergies include air filters or, for the severely allegoric, wearing a mask, Waguespack said.

“If someone has not had any exposure to their allergy for many months and then get slammed with high pollen counts, the lining in the nose releases a histamine that causes the symptoms,” he said. “If they are assaulted with the pollen day after day, there can be some chronic inflammation.”

Tim Williamson, co-owner of Carter Drugs, also offered some treatment tips for those allergic to pollen. Though spring weather may create an urge to spend time outdoors, Williamson said allergy sufferers may be wise to spend time indoors.

“Even though the weather is nice and you like the cool breeze, if you open up your windows, you’re letting pollen into your house,” he said. “If you know every year, when the pollen comes out, it’s important to take your allergy medicine, even if you don’t think you need it.”

Williamson said a dry, hacking cough may also be a sign of allergies.

“The visible pollen that you see now, is sometimes not as bad as the ones you can’t see,” he said. “When the cold weather goes away and the allergens come out, it can flare asthma up as well.”

Spring isn’t the only time outdoor allergies can be a problem. Waguespack said pollen from grass can become a problem during the summer and weed pollen can be a problem in fall.

Williamson said some allergy medicine is only available with a doctors prescription but many are available over-the-counter.