PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – The spring blooms sure look pretty, but they don’t feel so pretty when that pollen causes allergic reactions.

Peg and David Hammill are both suffering.

“Never had to take allergy medicine before, I’m taking it and it’s still not gone,” said Peg.

“I’m allergic to grass,” said David. “It makes my nose run like crazy when I mow the lawn.”

This year’s allergies are especially bad because the long, brutal winter delayed some trees from releasing their pollen and the early blast of warm weather is causing grass allergies to come early.

This is causing moderate to high levels of allergens all across the northeast.

Allergy doctor Deborah Gentile with AGH calls it a double whammy.

“It’s driving counts to be extremely high and making people who are often asymptomatic – or do not show symptoms – they’re showing symptoms now,” said Gentile.

Symptoms include water, itchy red eyes, nasal congestion, runny nose and sinus headaches.

Dr. Gentile says start with over-the-counter anti-histamines.

If that doesn’t work, doctors can prescribe nasal steroids, but those take a week to work.

Next year, plan ahead and see an allergy doctor in January to start taking the medicine before the pollen is even out.

So how can you tell if it’s allergies or a cold?

“Usually if it’s a cold, it will start as a slight sore throat. You typically don’t have a sore throat with allergies,” said Gentile. “You may have some throat itching, you may feel post-nasal drip, but you typically don’t have a sore throat.”

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Kristine Sorensen