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Spring Signals Sneezing Season

Allergies can make you miserable

SATURDAY, March 20, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- The start of spring signals the start of sneezing season for 25 million Americans who are allergic to the pollen in grasses, flowers and trees.

This allergy is known as hay fever, and while it can be present in the summer and fall, many people suffer most severely in the spring as everything starts to bloom.

Repeated and prolonged fits of sneezing are the hallmark of hay fever. Sufferers may also have a stuffy, runny or itchy nose, along with itchy, red eyes, according to the American Lung Association. People with hay fever may also have trouble breathing at night because the air passageways in their noses are blocked. Complications from hay fever can include chronic sinus infections, nasal polyps or asthma.

Hay fever ranges from mild to severe, but the overall affects of allergies are not inconsequential. In missed work days alone, allergies cost the U.S. economy more than $250 million annually, reports the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.

The best way to control hay fever is to avoid pollen whenever possible. Use air conditioning and air purifiers to keep the levels of pollen down in your home, especially in your bedroom, recommends the lung association. On days when the pollen count is high, an antihistamine can help control some of your symptoms. Over-the-counter nasal sprays should be used with caution, however, because overuse may make symptoms worse.

More information

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration offers this information on treating allergies.

SOURCES: American Lung Association; American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology; U.S. Food and Drug Administration
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