AUGUSTA, GA (WFXG) - Pollen season is off to an unusually early start this year which means allergies are also starting to kick in. "Pollen season this year, I would say, is probably one of the earliest I've seen in my career," says Dr. Donnie Dunagan.
The pollen shower has already started in the CSRA and will only get worse from here. "I think it's just getting started. It's going to get worse before it gets better," says Dr. Donnie Dunagan.
Allergists say that those with pollen allergies should look for signs like itchiness, nasal congestion, sinus headache, drainage, and sneezing. With flu season still being underway, those with pollen allergies are at risk of having a worse case of the influenza if they become sick. "If somebody's airways are already inflamed from maybe their allergies or say they have asthma, and their airways are inflamed from their allergies and then you throw the flu on top of that, then that's just going to be a recipe for disaster for some of those patients," says Dr. Donnie Dunagan.
Augusta's lower elevation also causes the pollen to sit in the CSRA like a bowl, making it difficult for it to blow away. Dr. Dunagan advises residents to do whatever they can to avoid allergens entering into their body. "I think the number one priority for allergies is avoidance. Unfortunately, this time of year, we start getting nicer days and people want to open their windows and let in all the fresh air that's out there. For people with allergies, that's not the best thing, you want to keep the allergens outside," says Dr. Donnie Dunagan.
Treatments can span from antihistamines, allergy shots, and allergy workup for more severe cases. But it's best not to use over the counter decongestants on a regular basis. "Simple things like the over-the-counter medicines like Zyrtec, Claritin, Allegra, they actually work very well for a lot of the symptoms. And the nose sprays work well. And the nose sprays work more for the congestion and the drainage. The antihistamine work more for the itching and the sneezing," says Dr. Donnie Dunagan.
Dr. Dunagan advises those who have already tried all the medicines and have only experienced worse symptoms, to see their primary care doctor.