Rough allergy year: Why, and how to make it through

CLEVELAND (WJW) — If you feel like you’re having one of your roughest allergy seasons, you’re not alone.

Sneezing, itchy throat, and itchy watery eyes and nose are relentless allergy symptoms making some people miserable and looking for relief.

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We received some helpful information during last year’s allergy season from a Northeast Ohio allergist who is also a professor at Case Western Reserve University.

In recent years, allergy season has been starting sooner because grass, many flowers, and trees are growing and blooming earlier than normal, but Cleveland Clinic Dr. Lily Pien says allergy seasons are also lasting longer.

Allergy seasons in Northeast Ohio start earlier when there’s a mild winter and according to the National Weather Service in Cleveland, this past winter of 2023/2024 was our 4th warmest winter on record.

Cleveland Clinic doctors are very busy again this year seeing an increase in patients dealing with spring allergies.

“Every year, May is the worst part of allergy season when tree and grass pollen counts are both very high,” Pien said.

Pien says allergy seasons are lasting longer due to changing and warmer climate conditions.

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Summer starts the weeds and ragweed allergy season that lasts until the first frost of fall which is usually October in Northeast Ohio.

Pien said pollen counts are at their highest levels in the morning which means the worst allergy sufferers might consider closing windows during the morning hours.

Air conditioners clear pollen in the air of your home because air conditioners have filters, Pien said.

Pien said over-the-counter nasal sprays that contain Corticosteroids can be the first line treatment to help the most.

Those include Flonase, Nasonex and Rhinocort, for example, and directions include two sprays in each nostril once a day. You can also use a plain nasal saline spray for your nose before you use sprays with corticosteroids.

You can ask your doctor about topical medicines to help especially with an itchy nose and eyes. Topicals contain the main ingredient of Astelin which is an antihistamine.

“Avoid spraying the septum directly in your nose because those types of nasal sprays can irritate the septum in your nose.”

Pien said the green dust-like powder you see on your car in the spring is pollen from blossoming trees, but it’s not the same as the microscopic pollen we can’t see that triggers bad allergies.

“Those who have the worst allergies can get a skin test to pinpoint exactly what they’re most allergic to, so we know exactly what medicines can be given for injections and for how long,” Pien said.

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