It's that time of the year when the pollen keeps many indoors with the sniffles and watery eyes.
We found out Monday that many in the area will have symptoms of allergies that are worse this spring than in previous years. Doctors tell us you can thank Old Man Winter for the sudden and intense increase in pollen this year, and the bad news is relief is months away.
Birds chirping are a familiar and welcomed sound during April and May, but this year it seems there are more sounds of sneezing and coughing that let us know spring is in full force.
Dr. Phillip Jones specializes in allergies, asthma and sinus problems. "This year we had that cold winter. Spring hit all of a sudden, and we have tree and grass pollen blooming. It's been kind of a hard hit for some of our patients," he told us.
D. Jones says allergy suffers have been flooding his Johnson City office in the past couple of weeks. "We have three providers today, all full, and we are seeing a lot of new patients," he said. "People are calling and saying, "I can't take it, can I be seen?'"
But Dr. Jones tells us to don't be so quick to reach for medications like Benadryl that can lead to make you feel drowsy. Instead, he says you should try over-the-counter antihistamines like Claritin or Zyrtec.
If those don't work, you should be see an allergist who can prescribe nasal spray or allergy shots.
Kenneth Kendrick says he's had problems with allergies in the past. "When I would mow, I would get runny eyes, itchy, my nose would run," he said.
Kendrick says taking allergy shots has helped him avoid the effects of this aggravating season. "A year ago I started taking the allergy shots once every week to build myself up, so this past season has probably been on of the best seasons I've ever had," he said.
No matter what medicine you take, Dr. Jones says pollen will stick around our area for a while. "We will have pollen in the area until mid-June. Seasons vary, though; we start to see a little bit of a relief, not for long though. Ragweed starts back about mid-August," he said. "There's not much relief from allergies in East Tennessee."
Dr. Jones tells us warm and dry weather days are worst for allergy suffers, so plan accordingly.
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