PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — If your nose is running and you think you have a cold, you may actually have something else.
“Typically in January and February, we’re not real busy in clinic. Over the last two weeks, we’ve been seeing many patients with acute allergy symptoms,” says Dr. Deborah Gentile, an allergist at Allegheny General Hospital. “The pollen is what’s triggering their attacks.”
For the first time ever, in February, tree pollen!
“We actually started counting this week, and we’ve seen moderate levels both yesterday and today,” she says.
Usually tree pollen doesn’t become a problem until April or May. With the unseasonably warm weather, allergy season is off to an unseasonably early start.
“I’ve never seen this happen so early in the year,” Dr. Gentile continues.
A short season is when the temperatures stay warm, and the trees release their pollen all in a week or two. But that probably won’t be the case this year.
“What I think is going to happen is we’re going to have a prolonged season,” she guesses.
Over-the-counter antihistamines can be started now, like Allegra, Claritin and Zyrtec.
“If that’s not working, give your doctor a call and get started on a nasal steroid spray,” she advises.
Also, keep your windows closed, and wash your clothes and hair after you’ve been outside.
If you need to get in to see the doctor, realize they may be busier than usual.
“We’re getting a lot of calls,” says Dr. Gentile. “I’ve actually had overflowing schedules this week.”