Warm weather means allergy season off to an early start

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The springlike February weather means allergy season is off to a fast start.

A warm, springlike afternoon with the sun shining and bright tender buds bursting from their branches; it's just the kind of day Ric Swiner used to dread.

"My face would be swollen, eyes would be red, throat would be scratchy," said Swiner, standing outside Allergy Partners of Raleigh.

Before he started getting routine allergy shots, the outdoors was not an option for Swiner.

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This year, we're getting an early start to the spring allergy season with tree pollen hitting at higher levels than expected.

Dr. Geetu Deogun with Allergy Partners of Raleigh has seen a spike in new patient visits since the weekend before Valentine's Day.

"Most of our patients are coming in with the typical runny nose and stuffy nose and sneezing and the itchy eyes, drainage in the back of the throat, lots of itching of the eyes, even the skin," she said.

Deogun said cottonwood and cedar are causing the most trouble for allergy sufferers right now, with oak pollen coming soon.

"They don't have to suffer," said Deogun. "We're lucky there's lots of over the counter medications available and for patients in whom those aren't working there's just so much we can do with individualized therapy and allergy immunotherapy."

Swiner said allergy shots have made all the difference for him.

"I'm looking forward to getting it over with so I can get outside and enjoy some of this nice weather," he said.

Just because the spring allergy season is striking early, Deogun said that doesn't mean March and April will be unusual.

"It's hard to predict," she said. "If we have another freeze it might just decrease all the pollen for a bit. But we expect this is a normal pollen time. We just started earlier because it was so warm."

Allergy Partners of Raleigh suggests some easy steps to avoid pollen that triggers your allergies:

- Keep bedroom windows closed at all times
- Use central or window air conditioning and change filters once a month
- Shower and shampoo your hair as soon as you come in from the outdoors
- Leave pollen-contaminated clothing out of the bedroom

For more information, visit Allergy Partners.

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