Get tips on how to survive allergy season

LOS ANGELES Every spring, 26-year-old Laura Panella suffers hay fever madness, but this allergy season sent her running to her doctor.

"This season I've noticed just a huge increase in my allergies," said Panella. "I am sneezing all the time."

She's far from being alone.

Allergist Dr. Shapiro says the unusually wet weather is causing pollen counts to peak and mold to grow.

"The typical allergy symptoms people usually think of are coughing, wheezing, itching of the skin, but symptoms go a lot further than that," said Dr. Shapiro.

Panella went to see Dr. Shapiro because over the counter medications stopped working and her symptoms started interfering with sleep and work.

"A lot of research has been done to look at what's the appropriate medication depending on the type of symptoms," said Dr. Shapiro. "Nasal sprays are much effective in controlling the more severe symptoms than just a simple over the counter antihistamine."

As important as medication are taking steps to protect yourself. Remove shoes when you get home so you don't track pollen indoors. Take a shower to rinse off allergens. And it also helps to stay indoors between the hours of 5 a.m. and 10 a.m., when pollen counts are the highest.

"You could do things like put dust mite covers on your mattress and pillows," said Dr. Shapiro. "You want to keep a clean home. Keep your windows closed when you are inside."

And it's not the just the trees we have to worry about. As a result of the heavy rains, doctors expect the grass and the weed allergens to be just as bad.

Panella's doctor suggested she started getting allergy shots to help boost her immune system for the long allergy season ahead.

"Nothing is fun about allergies. It is just day to day life and you just get through it. It's OK in the end," said Panella.

How can you tell if you're suffering from allergies or a cold? Sore throats, aches and coughing are more associated with colds, and itchy, watery eyes are usually a sign of allergies. The most important difference is that colds usually don't last longer than 14 days.

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