Spring brings allergy season

CONYERS — The sneezing. The itchy, watery eyes. The runny and stuffy noses. Allergy season is here and may have presented itself sooner than in other places, according to a health official.

With winter behind us, the warmer weather is causing the release of more pollen in the air. And the increased pollen is tickling noses in the process.

This region typically sees a longer pollen season, according to Dr. Grace Chiang with the The Allergy & Asthma Center in Conyers. Chiang, who recently moved here from the Midwest, said she has noticed changes in the allergy seasons.

"I already noticed that spring definitely starts earlier here in the South than other parts of the country," Chiang said. "And that can cause people to have more severe symptoms that affect them for a greater portion of the year."

Chiang said she does not expect any major differences in this year's allergy season than in the recent past.

"But I do expect that a lot of people will be impacted by the spring tree pollen," Chiang said. She added that grass pollen typically shows up in the summer and ragweed is a major culprit in the fall.

Besides seasonal allergies, some may have to deal year-round with allergies to dust mites, animal dander and mold.

"Allergies tend to develop earlier in life," Chiang said.

A skin reactivity test can determine an individual's allergic triggers, Chiang said.

While allergies do not tend to be fatal, Chiang added that allergy sufferers deal with discomfort that can result in days lost from work and school.

Allergies can become more serious and turn to allergic asthma, characterized by more serious symptoms, such as coughing and wheezing.

But there is some relief for allergy sufferers.

Treatments include environmental control, medication, and allergy immunotherapy offered through an allergist.

Medication offers relief while the medication is being taken. Injections through immunotherapy offer long-lasting benefits, Chiang said, if continued for the recommended three to five years.

"It is a good idea for people to monitor the pollen counts in the air," Chiang added, encouraging preventative ways to reduce symptoms.

A daily pollen count is available through The Allergy and Asthma Center Web site at www.allergyinatlanta.com.