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FOX Medical Team

Allergies strike early for some people

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Do you have runny nose? What about post-nasal drip? Do you have an irritating headache that won't go away? Those are all signs of spring allergies, and it's only early February. So, what's going on?

One allergist says this year's spring allergy season could be severe.

Even though we're nowhere close to the kind of pollen count madness we see in March, Atlanta Allergy and Asthma's Dr. Stanley Fineman is already seeing patients coming in complaining of sneezing and wheezing, caused by tree pollen.

"One of the problems we're having are that people with allergies are having a hard time differentiating between is there symptom due to an allergy, or is it due to all the viral infections we're seeing in the community too," said Fineman.

Colds and flus tend to come on suddenly, cause fever and aches and pains, but then get better after about a week. Allergy symptoms stick around, worsening as it warms up. Fineman says there's a reason for that.

"Patients who have allergy symptoms tend to have their symptoms triggered whenever they're exposed to the allergens," Fineman said.

If your allergies are mild, Fineman says you may just need an over-the-counter oral antihistamine or a topical nasal spray. But, if you're really struggling, you may need to come in and get tested to find out what you're allergic to.

Even though spring hasn't yet arrived, brace yourself. It may be long allergy season.

"When the pollen counts are high, take precautions, exercise indoors, stay out of the pollen.  And make sure you take your medication that your doctor has recommended, so that it can help prevent the symptoms," said Fineman.

If you need a skin test, it involves getting a series of small pricks on your skin with a toothpick like device. It contains small amounts of allergens like pollen, mold, or pet dander. If you're allergic, a mosquito bite-sized bump will appear. That pinpoints what exactly is making you cough and sneeze so much.

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