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Allergy sufferers may keep symptoms into summer

Photo by Michelle Long

Photo by Michelle Long

CONYERS -- Allergy sufferers are not in the clear just yet, as one local doctor said the season is likely to continue into the summer.

Dr. Donald Cote of Ear, Nose and Throat Specialists of Conyers said tree pollen is diminishing but is expected go through the end of this month. However, grass pollen starts up soon after and will go through sometime in July, which means that some people may soon notice worse symptoms even after tree pollen season ends.

"They may be reacting more to the grass (pollens), which are on the upswing," Cote said.

And allergies can be more than just a nuisance, according to Cote. They can cause worsening of asthma, sinus infections and ear infections.

"It definitely can be more than just the sniffles," Cote said of allergies.

Allergic reactions vary from nose congestion, pain and pressure in the face, runny nose, itchy, water eyes and sometimes scratchy throat. There is no sure way to tell who will have bad allergies this spring, but Cote said family history makes some people more susceptible.

"Why some people react and others don't -- we don't have a definite explanation for that," Cote said.

Allergies also typically go through peak cycles, according to Cote, one during the mid- to late teens and the other during midlife.

But relief is possible and relatively easy to get.

"There are a lot of over-the-counter medications (now available) that used to be prescription," Cote said, mentioning Claritin, Allegra and Zyrtec. "Most of those are now available in generic forms, as well."

For other relief options, the doctor suggested allergy sufferers look into changing air conditioning filters in their homes. He cited HEPA filters as those screen smaller particles in the air. Cote also suggested keeping windows closed to keep pollen out.

Rainy weather also helps temporarily by washing away the settled pollen.

This year's allergy season has not been out of character, according to Cote, but he said it did start a little sooner than usual. Cote thought January's cold spell and ice storms would have delayed the start, but the weather warmed up in February earlier than expected.

The area saw moderate levels of hickory, oak and pecan tree pollen and moderate levels of grass pollen Monday.