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Battling springtime allergies

Spring can be a beautiful time of year, but if you're one of the millions of people who have seasonal allergies, soaking up sunshine comes with itchy eyes and noses.

PENNSYLVANIA, USA — It's that time of year again. Flowers are blooming, and trees are starting to bud.

As nature starts to wake up, allergies for millions of people start to flare up.

"Most people are having allergies to pollen. That's probably the most common thing that people are allergic to in the environment, but also grass and different trees and weeds. All those things are starting to come out, and things start to bloom," said Dr. Kristin Marek, who specializes in family medicine at St. Luke's University Health Network.

With COVID-19 on everyone's mind, she says it's hard not to panic when you're not feeling well, but there are differences to look out for.

"The difference would be that, specifically with COVID and flu, you will have fever and chills, body aches, and just extreme fatigue, feeling more run down, I would say in general. You would not see those things as much or at all with allergies, fever chills, and body aches," said Dr. Marek.

Dr. Marek says avoiding allergens is key to reducing symptoms, but if you find yourself sneezing, itching your watery eyes, and blowing your stuffy nose, some medicines can help.

"Commonly, we hear about Claritin, Zyrtec, Allegra. All of those things are non-sedating antihistamines that can be used. Benadryl is an antihistamine, but it can make you a little drowsy. Nasal sprays can also be helpful, so a lot of people use Flonase or Nasonex, which are intranasal caudal steroids, and they can help reduce swelling and congestion in nasal passages. There are also prescriptions that are used as well," said Dr. Marek.

Dr. Marek says each year, the number of people battling allergies goes up.

"We do see it quite a bit, and this year again, it gets tricky with COVID around trying to differentiate sometimes but keeping those symptoms in mind that we talked about earlier to try and differentiate the two," said Dr. Marek.