Healthy Living: Just a Cold or Spring Allergies?

Spring is a tough time of year for allergy sufferers and it you made it through tree pollen season get ready, because grass pollen typically peaks in the middle of May across Western Washington.

Right now the pollen counts are low according to the Northwest Asthma and Allergy Center, but grass and weed pollen are about to hit.  For people who battle allergies, that can spell trouble in the form of itchy eyes, a runny nose, sneezing and even trouble breathing.  Experts say many people often mistake allergies for a cold.

"If you are somebody who is noticing every March you get that runny nose, sneeze, itchy eyes and congestion that seems to last longer than you'd expect, maybe bring it up with your physician," said Dr. Julia Becke with Pacific Medical Centers.

Dr. Becke says you should see a doctor if your allergies are getting in the way of your everyday routine and if over-the-counter medications aren't providing you enough relief.

"Having allergies and congestion, itchy eyes takes you out of the moment and prohibits you from enjoying anything," said Arthur Acuario who suffers from seasonal allergies.  "It's an awful thing to go through."

Arthur sought treatment for his allergies and says a combination of over-the-counter medications, along with an inhaler have improved his quality of life and allowed him to enjoy the outdoors.

To keep allergies in check, Dr. Becke says keep windows and doors closed and wash your linens regularly to rinse off pollen.  Vacuuming and dusting can also help.

Allergies can develop or get worse over time and symptoms can worsen depending on the level of exposure.  If allergies are really a problem for you, talk to your doctor about getting tested to see what you're most allergic to.  That often involves a skin prick.