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How to cope with aggravating symptoms of allergy season

Spring is here, and for many, that means lots of sneezing, itching, stuffed noses, watery eyes, and more. Here's how to deal with the symptoms.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Spring is officially here, and for many, that means allergy season as well.

“Spring allergies here in the Memphis area is a real thing. We rank in the top three cities in the United States for severe allergy symptoms,” said Dr. Victoria Vanacore, a Physician Assistant with Saint Francis Medical Partners.

Dr. Vanacore said while a lot of people think flowers blooming are to blame, it’s actually tree pollen. Birch, willow, cedar, walnut, and pecan trees can all affect allergies, and all of them are in full bloom now.

“Allergy symptoms can range from a mere inconvenience to truly debilitating for people, itchy, watery eyes, runny nose, and stuffy nose, clogged ears, itching of the ears, eyes nose, and throat. It can be very mild to some people can’t open her eyes when they step outside,” said Dr. Vanacore.

For some, it can be hard to tell the difference at first between basic common colds and allergy symptoms.

“The answer to that is time. Five to 10 days, viruses run their course. You feel better. You don’t need any type of medication. Allergies, symptoms persist. These things don’t go away on their own. You need some type of treatment to help combat these allergy symptoms or else they will persist through the season, which can be two to three months,” said Dr. Vanacore.

Treatment options vary. There are over-the-counter options such as Claritin, Zyrtec, and Allegra, considered nondrowsy antihistamines. Dr. Vanacore said they are safe and can be taken daily.

There are also nasal sprays such as Flonase, Nasonex. These are steroid-based nasal sprays and help flush nasal passages and open up those cavities. Dr. Vanacore said the steroid is an anti-inflammatory, so it helps bring down the inflammation that causes all that congestion.

“Other than taking medication every day, there are things such as saline rinses, which are just salt water. You can just squirt that up your nose daily it’s essentially like breathing in the ocean water and it just helps clear and flush those sinus cavities,” said Dr. Vanacore.

And for those who find the symptoms particularly harsh outside, take some precautions.

“When you’re outside doing some outdoor chores, wear an N-95 mask to prevent breathing in all of those floating allergy particles,” said Dr. Vanacore.

And don’t forget inside your home.

“Another important thing for prevention is making sure we’re diligent about changing the air filters in our home. You want to change those filters every 90 days so that you’re not inhaling anything that has been stuck in those filters for any longer length of time. If you have carpet in the home, vacuuming those carpets frequently is very Important,” said Dr. Vanacore.

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