Unusual summer brings unusually early allergy attack - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Unusual summer brings unusually early allergy attack

Just because the season started early doesn't mean it will end early. Just because the season started early doesn't mean it will end early.

Tennessee Valley doctors report allergy sufferers are getting an unwanted head start on the fall allergy season as a side effect of the region's cool, wet summer.

"The runny nose, the itchy eyes, the sneezing... it's started earlier. That's typically what we hear," said Huntsville family doctor Tim Howard.

After a summer marked by unusually cool temperatures and frequent heavy rain, Howard said the air is ripe with mold spores and pollen the likes of which are routinely associated with autumn. "As the weather starts to cool,' he said, ‘the changes, the fall, the leaves changing, those kinds of things, we'll see the big surges [in allergens]. But we're already starting to see that now."

Howard said he routinely suggests patients try rinsing their sinuses with saline, something he does every day. "Just a pump spray bottle of nasal saline," he suggested. "One of the things I tell my patients all the time is if you get a screw top bottle you can refill it with saline for contacts. If it's safe for your eyes, it's safe for your nose. It's extremely inexpensive and it works."

As for whether the early start to what is normally an "autumn" allergy season means an early end, Howard offered little hope for such a lucky break. "It could just be longer," he said, "unless you have a cold snap earlier and then that might do it. But typically when it starts earlier, it's just going to last longer." 

In the quest for relief, Howard said nasal irrigation techniques like neti pots can also be helpful but are more work and mess than simple saline sprays. He also said popular over-the-counter medications such as Mucinex, Claritin, Allegra and Zyrtec are also effective.

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