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Prepare for a Long Allergy Season in Hastings

DOBBS FERRY, N.Y. –  With the recent warm weather you can smell the scent of spring in the air -- unless of course you suffer from seasonal allergies -- in which case, you'll just have to take someone's word for it.

“It’s going to be a very bad season,” said Domenic Siracusa, the operations manager and in-house nutritionist at Greenleaf Pharmacy in Hastings. “It’s been a very warm winter and the flowers are starting to bloom earlier so that’s a problem.”

Springtime allergy season typically arrives either early or late April in this part of the country, but the unusually mild winter might mean an early beginning to stuffy noses and itchy eyes. And now is the perfect time to address issues that might not surface until after the vernal equinox .

Allergy sufferers might be miserable in the springtime – or any time, for that matter – but they're far from alone. According to the National Center for Health Statistics , about 26 million Americans endure chronic seasonal allergies.

“If you’re not that sensitive you could probably get away with a couple of mild seasons and if you get hit with a really bad season more people are affected because there’s just that much more pollen and ragweed floating around in the air,” said Eric Granick, owner and pharmacist at Cary’s Pharmacy in Dobbs Ferry.

Allergic reactions are the body's response to an invasion. When your interior sentries detect foreign substances (antigens), the immune system is triggered. Its antibodies attack the allergen, which leads to the release of histamines , which trigger allergic symptoms.

Allergens responsible for early spring afflictions begin with tree pollens, which are released when young buds develop into leaves. Pollens typically become a factor around the beginning of April and grass pollens follow around mid-May.

But how does a person discern between an early spring allergic condition and a late winter cold? Colds usually last five to seven days and can be accompanied by fever, body aches and other symptoms. People experiencing persistent cold-like respiratory symptoms , without fever and body aches, might be suffering from allergies.

In addition to congestion and coughing, allergy symptoms can include sneezing, itchy and/or watery eyes runny nose and postnasal drip, sinus pain (headaches, congestion) and itchy, stuffy ears. But allergy symptoms can also manifest as eczema, hives and other skin rashes.

Sufferers with intermittent or occasional symptoms should consider seeking relief from over-the-counter medications, such as antihistamines, salt-water nasal rinses and eye drops. If symptoms are more persistent, and if they interfere with regular activities or quality of life, sufferers should see an allergist.

To those who aren’t sure if they have allergies or not, Siracusa said no one is immune to the irritation.

“You can develop allergies at any given time,” Siracusa said. “You can be 40 years old and get allergies.”

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