Friday, March 2, 2012

Warm Winter Adds to Allergy Woes

North Carolina's often humid climate is not a favorite for allergy
sufferers in any year. But even with recent cold snaps, the unusually
mild winter the state is experiencing this year promises to make 2012
an allergy season to remember for all the wrong reasons. It turns out
the stuffy noses, sneezing, coughing that many people have been
mistaking for a cold are really allergy symptoms….arriving 4-6 weeks

Trees and flowers are blooming earlier. In addition, dead plant
material is decaying faster than usual (mold) which is adding to the
problem. And because it has been a fairly dry winter, some fall
allergens such as ragweed may still be blowing around. The bad news
for allergy sufferers is that most allergy specialists say it appears
this is just the start of what will be one long spring allergy season.

Abby Reynolds, a Kerr Drug pharmacist and Manager of Clinical Programs
for Kerr Drug, offers these tips to help allergy sufferers enjoy the
mild temperatures despite the itchy nose and eyes.

• Ask your pharmacist about over-the-counter antihistamines such as
Zyrtec, Allegra and Claritin. These medicines will work well with
patients with mild allergies.
• Use a saline nasal spray if you're looking for a quick fix to
temporarily stop the sneezing without any kind of oral medication. It
will wash away all the dust and allergens and can be used several
times a day without any problem.
• If you spend a lot of time outside, especially if you are working
in the yard, pollen can end up on your skin and in your hair. Take a
shower after you come inside to rinse away the pollen.
• Take off your shoes when you come in the house to avoid tracking
pollen into every room. The same goes for your clothes. These steps
aren't necessary for everyone, but if seasonal allergies are a real
problem, they will help keep the pollen outside.
• Keep the window closed. While it is nice to open the windows and
let a warm spring breeze into the house, allowing the breeze to blow
through invites pollen inside. It's better to use the air conditioner
during the height of seasonal allergy season.
• Watch the perfume and cologne. Strong perfumes can irritate the
nasal airways and lungs and make you cough.
As you are sniffing and sneezing earlier than usual, you can blame La
Nina, which is a cooling of the waters off the coast of South America,
for this unseasonably warm weather. Ironically, it's the same weather
pattern that brought last year's bitterly cold winter and snow. The
difference this year is something called the arctic oscillation, which
can either be positive or negative. Last year it was negative; this
year it's positive -- and that's what's making all the difference.