AHHHH-CHOOO! Sniffle...snort. It's not even officially spring yet, but it's that time of year for us springtime allergy sufferers. Thanks to our warm winter, it's come a little early, too.

Doc Maranto
Photo courtesy of bossierfamilymedicine.com

I can't remember a time in my life when I didn't sniffle and sneeze nearly all spring, every spring. The itchy, red eyes were the norm for me growing up. Some years, it's not so bad. Other years, I'm miserable. According to my physician, Dr. Will Maranto at Bossier Family Medicine, things are only going to get worse from here. He told me what's in the air right now.

"You're having your trees putting out pollen a little bit earlier than they might otherwise," he said. "Usually, the first thing that causes people to have allergies in the spring would be the hardwood pollen...oak and cedar and things like that."

Next, he said, comes the pine pollen. And here's an interesting bit of trivia for you -- that pollen, which leaves cars and roadways covered in yellow, isn't a common allergen. It just happens to follow the hardwood pollens that people are allergic to.

So, what can you do for a little relief? Dr. Maranto suggests antihistamine, possibly combined with a nasal spray.

"My advice to patients with those kinds of medicines is always to get on them and stay on them for extended periods of time," he said. "In fact, one of the things that worked the best for people on long-acting antihistamine or sterile nasal sprays it that they'll start a few weeks before they expect allergens to start floating around in the air."

Dr. Maranto said those medicines take a number of days or weeks to start working. He said if you start taking those after your sinuses have started to flare, you won't feel the effects as fast. I started taking my yearly regimen some time last week, and it hasn't really started working yet. It takes trial and error to find the exact combination of medication to ease my symptoms.

The doctor said if your allergies are particularly bad, you'll be referred to an allergy specialist, which he says he does fairly often. However, he said that only happens when the fast-acting treatments aren't working.

You're probably thinking...how long do we have to wait for the pollen conditions to ease up some? Dr. Maranto said he usually sees patients in large numbers until the beginning of summer.

"So usually sometime around the beginning of June is when it will go down," he said. "Certainly the peak is always going to be mid- to late-March. And it can move around, but usually by the time, as my old patients always tell me, it gets hot and everything dies, then they don't have to worry about allergens as much."

The doc expects this to be a worse season than most, but he said that's difficult to predict. So go take your allergy pill, snort some nasal spray and stay indoors more often. You know I'm feeling your pain. I guess I'll see you again this summer.

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