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Mild Winter Heralds Early Sneezin' Season
Date:2/23/2012

u have what you think is a cold that lasts longer a week, it may be allergies, according to the ACAAI. Also, allergies don't cause fevers and body aches, whereas a cold or flu can. If the discharge from your nose is clear, it's likely that an allergy is to blame from your misery, according to the ACAAI.

Both Fineman and Ponda said it's important to see an allergist to help identify your triggers through allergy testing. Once you know exactly what makes your allergies flare up, you can take steps to prevent them.

If tree pollen is an issue, Ponda says that she advises her patients -- or their parents -- to follow pollen counts in their area, and if the levels are moderate or high to start taking preventive measures, such as keeping the windows closed. She said it's especially important to take steps to avoid pollen between the hours of 5 a.m. and 10 a.m. when pollen counts are often at their highest.

Other things you can do are to stay inside during high pollen hours whenever possible, and if you have to go out, to use the recirculated air setting for your car's vents. When pollen levels are elevated, it's also a good idea to shower as soon as you come home or at least before bed to avoid spreading pollen in your home and bedroom.

In addition to these self-care steps, Fineman said that there are preventive medications that can often help keep allergies at bay. The first line in treatment is generally over-the-counter antihistamines, such as Allegra or Zyrtec or generic equivalents. For more severe allergies, he said that doctors will often prescribe nasal steroids or antihistamines.

And, for those with really intolerable allergies, Fineman said to consider allergy shots. "Allergy immunotherapy is a long-term treatment that develops a sustained tolerance. It's a more life-changing way of dealing with allergies," he said.

More information

Check out pollen counts near where you live at the

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