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Tips for allergy sufferers

There may still be snow on the ground, but allergy season has arrived.

“In the north, it starts a little later, (but) down south, it’s already spring allergy season,” said Dr. David Rosenstreich, director of allergy and immunology at Montefiore Medical Center in New York. “So people have to be aware.”

Rosenstreich said it can even be difficult for doctors to determine if a patient is suffering from a bad cold or allergies. Many people can go years without having an allergy symptom, and then suddenly develop them.

“If you generally feel very sick all over, it’s more likely a cold,” he said. “But not always. If you had the same symptoms every year at the same time, it’s probably an allergy.”

As for treatment, some allergy medications work better if you start taking them before the symptoms arise. Check with your doctor before starting any medication, even those over-the-counter.

“If you have nasal or eye allergies, you don’t have to start treating yourself too soon,” Rosenstreich said. “Normally, the medicine starts working right away. So as soon as you start feeling symptoms, you can start your medicines. The pills you take, these antihistamines, work better if you take them before you have symptoms. So, they always work better to prevent than they do to treat.”

Experts say while it’s difficult to detect the severity of this allergy season, you can usually judge by the kind of winter you’ve experienced. Traditionally, the milder the winter, the longer the allergy season.