RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- The record-breaking February warm temperatures in The Triangle are ushering in budding trees, flowers and allergy season.
Allergists say now is the time to start protecting yourself against seasonal allergies and get ahead of symptoms.
"Nose sprays can take longer to work, so sometimes one or two weeks before they can take full effect," said Dr. Edwin Kim, Director of UNC Pediatric Allergy and Immunology. "So, starting those now before the symptoms get really bad is going to be really really critical."
According to the CDC, seasonal allergies affect as many as 60 million Americans.
Kim recommends getting started with allergy meds as early as possible and not waiting until the yellow pollen is on the ground because it's actually the invisible tree pollen that is a big trigger and it spikes before the yellow pollen falls.
He says starting a steroid nasal spray early is a good idea.
"Most people are very quick to pick up the tablets, which can be effective," Kim explained. "But, really for my patients, I emphasize strongly the nasal sprays, because they go right at the source. All of your symptoms are starting from your nose, whether it's congestion, whether it's a runny nose, or itching. And, so trying to get a medicine that goes right there and stops those symptoms are essential.
Kim says to check with your doctor if you aren't sure what type of nasal spray to use.
Other over-the-counter therapies including antihistamines and nasal irrigation devices like a neti pot can also help.
Also, keeping windows closed in your car and at home, and keeping clothes and linens clean of pollen is a good rule of thumb.