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Nothing to Sneeze At: Spring Allergies Have Sprung

The 2011 spring allergy season is shaping up to be a miserable one, with pollen levels reaching record highs.

It’s that time of year. We’ve waited all winter to see lush grass and blooming trees and flowers. A severe allergy season is also in bloom here in Fairfield, with many adults and children affected by this year’s high pollen count. There is a whole world of spring allergens out there that can wreak havoc with your eyes, nose and throat.

I don’t know about you, but this week has been about the worst I can remember. Even my dog is sneezing. And if you are one of the lucky few not dealing with seasonal allergies, be grateful. The 2011 spring allergy season is shaping up to be a miserable one, with pollen levels reaching record highs thanks to heavy winter snows, early spring rains and an early spring warm-up, according to Dr. Kenneth Backman of Allergy & Asthma Care of Fairfield County.

Dawn Taranto, mother of two children ages 4 1/2 and 1 1/2, told About Town that after moving back to the area from Texas, she was expecting allergy symptoms to lessen, but to her dismay, they’ve continued.

“Having moved back to Connecticut from Austin, Texas, where allergies are a big problem, I was expecting some relief for my daughter. Unfortunately, my four and-a-half year-old daughter has been suffering from allergies a great deal,” Taranto said. “The other day we had to keep her home from school after she woke many times during the night with a barking cough and runny nose."

Treatment options run the gamut, from over-the-counter remedies to allergy immunotherapy available through an allergist. Most of us are reaching for the quick fix when allergies strike, but it doesn’t always provide long-term relief.

“A friend recommended Zyrtec and this has made my daughter’s symptoms less severe, but they are still present,” Taranto said.

Backman points out that it’s important to keep allergies from getting out of control.

“When allergies flare, people feel fatigued, with less energy than usual, often from poor quality of sleep resulting from congestion,” Backman said. “Allergies can lead to sinusitis, asthma flares, ear infections, and other medical problems. They also cause reduction in school or work quality and many absences.”

Thursday’s pollen count, 10.3, is considered to be in the “high” range. Friday’s pollen count is predicted to be at 9.6, according to Pollen.com.

Pollen levels on Friday will be falling but will remain in the high range. The cause for the falling pollen levels is rising humidity, weak winds and expected precipitation in the evening, which tends to wash pollen out of the air, according to Pollen.com.

We don't always welcome rain, especially on a weekend, but perhaps it will offer all of us allergy sufferers some much-needed relief.

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