Tips for treating allergies during high pollen season

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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Allergy season is in full swing, and the symptoms can be more than just annoying, they can be downright miserable.

Dr. Blair Thrush, an allergist at Thrush & Clark Allergists in Charleston, West Virginia, says we're about two weeks into tree pollen season.

"In West Virginia, we have so many trees that the pollen counts can be extremely heavy," Thrush said.

Tree pollen season will likely last for another month, Thrush said. Then, it will be the start of grass season.

Before rushing to buy medicine, Thrush says you need to identify what you're suffering from. It may not be allergies after all.

The main symptom to look for is itching.

"Itching of your eyes, itching of your nose, itching of the roof of your mouth," said Thrush. "When people tell you they itch, usually that's allergic. A little bit of sneezing attacks, yes, in some people. But beyond that, most other nasal complaints -- like, I'm stuffy, I have drainage -- are really not very specific for allergies."

If you have coughing or other nasal symptoms like a stuffy nose or drainage, Thrush says it could be a spring head cold. It's also possible that you have both a cold and allergies.

"A lot of people actually have spring head colds but because they look out and see all the green they think, 'Oh, this must be allergies,'" Thrush said. "Of course, you can have both a head cold and allergies at the same time."

If you think what you're suffering from is allergies, Thrush says there are several over-the-counter medications that can help. Nasal sprays may also provide you with some relief.

Thrush says if you're using a steroid nasal spray, you may not see the results for a week or so.

There are also sprays, like one called NasalCrom, that Thrush says you can take 15 to 30 minutes before going outside or being around things you're allergic to. It will help prevent the symptoms.

Other tips include keeping the windows shut and turning your air conditioning on to filter the pollen out. He also recommends washing your hair and clothes often.

When all else fails, Thrush recommends making an appointment with a board-certified allergist.

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