Spring is in the air, as are allergies

April 13, 2011 2:16:34 PM PDT
Tis the season for allergies; Chicagoans are sniffling and sneezing and experts say it could be one of the worst allergy seasons ever.

The first blooms of the season can be a welcome sight for winter-weary people, but it also signals problems for those with allergies who are affected by tree pollen.

"Watery nose, itchy eyes," Cassandra Melo said.

"I try not to dwell on it. I take my pills and go out and fight the elements," Sylvia Prangley said.

This year could be tough for people with allergies, according to Dr. Mary Kay Tobin of Rush University Medical Center. "Across the country, pollen seasons are becoming longer and especially in our area it's been getting gradually worse in the last 10 years," Dr. Tobin said.

Dr. Tobin said it's not clear why that is, but some experts link tree pollen production to higher pollution levels. Other issues-- grass and weed pollens to deal with throughout the summer.

"Your eyes will start to get swollen and you'll kind of look like you haven't had sleep and your nose is gonna be stuffed and drippy and your throat, you're going to feel it going down your throat," Dr. Tobin said.

Dr. Tobin says it's important to stay on top of symptoms by taking medicine. But for cases where over the counter formulas don't work, patients can come in for allergy shots where they're injected once a week during allergy season with allergens to build up a tolerance.

For 22-year-old Grace Seuffert, allergy shots help her handle a tough season. "I was miserable. If I didn't take medicine and went anywhere I couldn't breathe. Worst quality of life ever," Seuffert said.

You can check the pollen count each day on our website abc7chicago.com. Just click on the weather tab for more information.