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Don't let allergies ruin your spring
Shots, medicines and avoiding pollen can help allergy sufferers

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McCLATCHY-TRIBUNE
Visit the Photo Place
Date published: 4/11/2010

BY RYAN MARR

Adam Sheldrick's allergies were so bad that at 5 years old, he couldn't even run around outside without the aid of an inhaler.

His father, Brian Sheldrick, installed a new air filtration system in the house, and he tried to keep his son away from the allergens that made him sick.

For adults, avoiding pollen by staying inside, closing windows and using an air conditioner can be a great strategy. But for kids like Adam, the approach is tough to enforce.

"He wanted to go outside and play sports," Sheldrick said of Adam. "But by the time that spring hit, he was having difficulty breathing."

At first, the Sheldricks, of Spotsylvania County, tried using over-the-counter medication to treat Adam's allergies.

"We tried Claritin," Sheldrick said. "It just didn't work. It would curb the symptoms, but it wouldn't help in the long term."

So, the Sheldricks turned to allergy shots.

"We noticed an immediate effect," Sheldrick said.

The shots have worked so well that Adam--who used to be severely allergic to grass pollen and weed pollen--is no longer allergic to grass pollen.

He keeps taking the shots to combat tree pollen, which is the main culprit behind the runny noses and watery eyes many people suffer in the spring.

Last week, the allergy Web site pollen.com listed maple, elm and poplar trees as chief reasons why Fredericksburg's allergy level was "high."

NOT JUST AN ANNOYANCE

Sniffles and coughing can stem from a cold this time of year. But if symptoms persist for more than 10 days, that's a good sign they're allergy-related said Dr. Andrew Kim, an allergist at Allergy & Asthma Centers of Fredericksburg and Fairfax.

Other differences between allergies and a cold, according to Web MD include the following:

Allergies often involve itchy, watery eyes, while colds rarely do.

Colds sometimes cause muscle aches, while allergies never do.

Allergies never cause a fever, while colds sometimes do.

Kim, the allergist, said he fears people don't take allergies as seriously as they should.

"Allergies can lead to sinus inflammation, which can cause sinus infections that just make people miserable," Kim said. "Some people can't even go outside and enjoy themselves."


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Treatment options for allergy sufferers include allergy shots as well as antihistamines such as Benadryl and Claritin. Other options include:

Decongestants

Steroid nasal sprays

Neti pots and other nasal rinses

To read more about allergy treatment options, visit aaaai.org, the site of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.