Treating spring allergies: Common triggers, remedies

PHOENIX - Spring officially starts Tuesday, which likely means miserable conditions are about to arise for those with allergies.

The recent rain may have provided a bit of relief for allergy sufferers but it won't last long.

Dr. Richard Keightley with Paradise Valley Allergy says allergies are going to kick into high gear in the next few weeks.

"(The rain) is going to clear the air but, later on, when we've had rain and warmer weather, weeds can start sprouting off.  We may have weed pollen in the (next few) weeks," Keightley said.

Ash, mulberry, and olive tree pollen will be the most common allergy triggers for the end of March and April, Keightley said.

"Miserable coughing, sneezing, sniffling, just awful," said allergy patient Jan Casillas, in regards to her symptoms. Casillas received her regular allergy skin test Monday. 

According to Keightley, skin tests are beneficial for patients who find that over-the-counter medications are not helping. 

During a skin test, small doses of several allergens are pressed into the skin. In about 15 to 20 minutes, the doctor will assess how much a patient reacts to the allergens. If the reaction is severe, Keightley may prescribe allergy shots.

Casillas has been receiving allergy shots for several years. Her reaction to the skin test was not too bad this time. She pointed out a few red spots on her arm where the pollen was tested. Typically, her allergy test would create larger welts on her arm.

Keightley recommended that allergy sufferers avoid outdoor activity early in the morning and after dark. That's when pollen count is at its highest, he said. He also advises that his patients sleep with their windows closed.

Keightley said there are several over-the-counter products that can be quite effective for allergy sufferers. If that doesn't work, Keightley says a skin test might be the way to go. 

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