NORWALK, Conn. -- Just when you thought it was safe to leave the house. After one of the nastiest winters on record, there's another seasonal threat connected with the start of spring: allergies.
The doctors at Norwalk-based Allergy Center of Connecticut are already seeing the effects.
"The amount of precipitation we had this winter is likely to increase the pollen and mold levels this spring," said Dr. Philip Hemmers. "I've been seeing patients suffering with tree pollen allergies for two weeks already."
Although he said it's possible the prolonged cold could shorten the length of the allergy season, he predicts the next few months will be bad.
So, how can you make it better? Hemmers, a Weston resident, offers the following suggestions:
- Know the Pollen Count: Avoid prolonged time outdoors on warm and windy days when counts are high.
- Keep the Pollen Out: To avoid bringing the outdoors in, keep windows closed. Children should shower, clean the pollen off and put on a change of clothes.
- Wear Your Shades: Sunglasses may help keep pollen out of the eyes.
- Start Treatment Early: Take over-the-counter and prescription preventative allergy medicines (such as Claritin, Allegra or Zyrtec) to reduce or even prevent allergy symptoms. The earlier in the season the better. Once the pollen levels are high then it becomes more difficult to “catch up," he said.
As for how to tell the difference between a cold and allergy? Hemmers said it's all about timing.
"The symptoms of a common cold and an allergy overlap significantly, runny nose, sneezing, etc. However, a common cold will last ten days at the most. A spring allergy will last for several weeks or months," he said.
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