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Allergic to po -- po -- POLLEN?

Allergies

Doctors offer advice for coping with spring

March 21, 1996
Web posted at: 12:45 a.m. EST

From Correspondent Rhonda Rowland

ATLANTA, Georgia (CNN) -- Don't be fooled by the lingering cold, wet winter weather. Wednesday was the first day of spring, although it didn't feel like it in most parts of the United States. Despite cold temperatures, allergists say it's not too early to prepare for the arrival of pollen.

Doctors say that the cold weather might lead people to believe that allergy season won't be that bad this year. Unfortunately for people who have allergies, this season could be a bad one.

"The trees aren't dead, the grasses aren't dead. They will come back as soon as the weather warms up, and we probably will have a very vigorous pollen season," said Dr. David Tanner of the Atlanta Allergy Clinic.

Millions of people suffer from allergies to pollen, many with reactions like that of allergy patient Chris Kulczak.

"The worst symptoms were real bad sinus congestion that usually led to some sort of post-nasal drip, and then it led down to my chest and I'd get real bad coughing," he said.

The first line of relief is over-the-counter antihistamines and decongestants. Doctors say they can be effective for those with mild allergy symptoms. If that doesn't work, Dr. Tanner suggests that allergy sufferers see their physician and get a prescription medication.

The advantage of many of the prescription medications is that they won't make you sleepy, he says.

In addition to standbys like Claritin and Flonase, doctors have some new drugs in their arsenal this allergy season, including Zyrtec. They can also prescribe one of several steroid nasal sprays.

One out this year, called Atrovent, will not stop sneezing, congestion, or post-nasal drip, it will dry up a runny nose, says Dr. Kathleen Sheerin of the Atlanta Allergy Clinic.

Shot

The final option, and the last resort currently available, is allergy shots. Patients who get the injections over a three-year period can change their immunity. Once completed, some patients are cured, while others need periodic boosters. To avoid medications, doctors say, the best prescription is to stay indoors, close your windows, and turn on the air conditioner.

If hibernation or medications still don't give you relief, there may yet be hope for you in years to come. Researchers are working to learn which genes cause allergies, which may lead to new treatments in the future.

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