Allergy forecast: Code Red

Mar. 13, 2013 @ 05:32 AM

Allergy sufferers should keep their tissues close at hand, because this season will be a bad one. 

“I think it will certainly be worse than last year,” Lindsey Johnson, a physician and Union FamilyPractice, said. 

The pollen count goes up every year, but the winter was mild, she said. 

“I would expect this season to be worse than last year ... it’s gotten warm a little bit earlier whick makes it a longer season,” Johnson said. 

The rain and snow will impact the pollen and the mold. 

“The damp air will make mold worse and that just depends on your home as well,” Johnson said. 

People with allergies should start their medication a couple of weeks before it gets warm or before their symptoms, then continue taking their medication throughout the season, she said. 

Allergy sufferers should also try to avoid their triggers. They can do things like put an allergy cover on their bed to avoid dust mites, wear a mask when they clean, shower and wash their clothes after working outside to get rid of the pollen and other avoidance methods. 

If avoiding allergens and over-the-counter medication are not doing the job, Johnson said there are prescription allergy medication sufferers can use like nasal sprays or sometimes an allergy shot.

If prescription medication does not work, a person can see an allergist who will perform a skin test to find out exactly what the person is allergic to. 

“I usually tell people that after three weeks of trying over-the-counter medications and avoidance, if things aren’t getting better...they should certainly come in and see their doctor,” Johnson said. 

One homeopathic remedy that is often suggested is consuming local honey. 

“There are some studies that have shown benefits,” Johnson said. “It works in a similar way as the allergy shot.”

It works by giving your system small amounts of the allergen, so it gets used to the small particles. However, local honey would not work on indoor allergies like dust mites, mold or pet dander, Johnson advised. 

“It certainly would not hurt to try, except on children less than a year old,” she said. 

For older children and adults, the local honey could could help and would not hurt, she said. 

An estimated 50 million Americans, about 1 in 5, suffer from allergies, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. It is the fifth leading chronic disease in the U.S. for all ages, and the third leading chronic disease for children under 18 years old.