Spring arrives and so do spring-time allergies - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

Spring arrives and so do spring-time allergies

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COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) -

Wednesday is the first day of Spring, but the change in season also comes with some seasonal side effects.

Local health experts say they're already seeing several patients with allergy-like symptoms, but they add cold and flu viruses are still very much alive.

Many of the symptoms for allergy sufferers are similar to the common head cold, so how do you tell the difference?

"Usually with a cold you can have more fatigue. You're going to have some fever," says Susan Thrower, a nurse practitioner at the CVS Minute Clinic off of Hard Scrabble Road.

While you may experience a runny nose or congestion with allergies and head colds, Thrower says with a virus, you'll often feel really tired and run down.

"You may have some colored drainage although that's not always a sign of a bacterial infection, but fevers," says Thrower. "Those kind of things are the things we're looking for."

Once you've ruled out a virus or head cold, Thrower says antihistamines and saline sprays are your first line of defense.

"You want to avoid using things like Afrin for the nose or a nasal decongestant," says Thrower. "Those can actually cause rebound congestion."

She adds if over the counter medications aren't helping you, it may be time to see an allergy specialist. Thrower says while some allergies start as a child, others can develop later in life.

"With any kind of allergy, the more you're exposed to something the more likely you are to develop an allergy to it," says Thrower. "Some people just don't go outside a lot. Some people work outside a lot, so there's  a lot of different factors that can increase your chance of getting that."

Thrower says in addition to medications, allergy sufferers need to make sure they're washing their hands and faces regularly. She says don't change your clothes and leave them on your bed after coming inside, and leave your shoes outside, if possible, to avoid bringing pollens in your house.

Thrower also recommends vacuuming and dusting often. And, she says, keep your windows closed and the air conditioning on.

The WIS Weather team says tree pollen counts are expected to be very high Wednesday. Even if rain helps wash away pollen, Meteorologist Ben Tanner says in the midst of pollen season, it's not long before high levels of pollen return.

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