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Spring allergies: How to diagnose, how to deal

April 18, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
Do you have a dull headache, stuffy nose, or are you sneezing several times a day? It could be allergies, and it's not just your imagination. Spring allergies have hit harder than usual.

In his first two hours at work, allergy specialist Dr. Jacob Offenberger has already seen 16 patients. He believes outdoor allergens are the worst he's seen in 20 years.

"That's a unique weather pattern than we had," he said. "We had a warm winter that got all the tree pollen to bloom early," Offenberger said. "We have rain for two days and then beautiful weather, and then rain another weekend and then beautiful weather. So everything is going up."

David Talcott, a 4-year-old Santa Clarita resident, has been suffering a lot this week. He's too young to understand what an allergy is but he knows how he feels.

"It hurts me sometimes," said Talcott.

His mother, Katie, knows what her son is going through.

"His nose runs more, maybe a little more congestion when he sleeps," she said. But she says the best thing she has done for herself and her son is getting the right diagnosis and learning how to help him manage. "I don't let it hinder my life. I don't let it keep us from doing things," she said.

Talcott also carries a rescue inhaler because he asthma too. Offenberger says if people with asthma use their inhalers more than twice a week, they need to do more to get the allergies under control.

The first step, experts say, is to find out what you're allergic to. This can be done with a simple skin test at an allergist's office. Then take steps to avoid the allergens, like staying indoors.

"So the people who like to run early in the morning when the pollen of the tree is in full blow should go to walk in the mall or run in the mall or in an area that doesn't have as much pollen," said Offenberger.

Studies show cleaning out your nose daily with a saline rinse can help and if over-the -counter anti histamines don't help, Offenberger recommends seeing a doctor.

You can also check out Pollen.com. The website that provides a four-day allergy "forecast" for your area.


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