• What can people do for springtime allergies?

    By: Jason Brewer

    Updated:

    This season is hitting many people's immune systems hard with pollen flying thanks to a relatively mild winter and a wet April. Trees and plants are thriving, but so is that nasty pollen.

    So how do you tell if what you're feeling is allergies or a common cold?

    "Sometimes people are like, 'Every year in the spring I get this cold,' and then they have this 'Aha!' moment that it's the third year in a row, must be allergies," said Dr. Karen Hsu-Blatman of Brigham and Women's Hospital. "If they were having a low-grade fever and body aches that might be more of a cold."

    Additionally, as the climate warms, there's less time between the first and last freeze of the season meaning there's simply more opportunity for growth. The growing season in Boston has lengthened by about 14 days since 1970.

    Scientists with the U.S. Department of Agriculture did a study specifically on ragweed. They found that as CO2 concentrations increased, plants produced more pollen.

    CO2 levels in the atmosphere continue to climb, leading us to believe pollen season will get longer and more severe.

    So, what can you do?

    Allergy experts suggest sleeping with the windows closed, wearing a hat outdoors and even going as far as wearing a mask for yard work.

    Washing your hair before bed is also key, otherwise you'll be breathing in that pollen all night long.

    "Some antihistamine eye drops, oral antihistamines, also steroid nasal sprays that are over the counter," recommended Dr. Hsu-Blatman. "If those aren't working, I recommend you see your allergist."

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