Winter Allergy Season Packing a Punch

By Omar Villafranca
|  Monday, Mar 7, 2011  |  Updated 11:14 PM CDT
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Doctors say this winter allergy season has been one of the most punishing.

Omar Villafranca, NBCDFW.com

Doctors say this winter allergy season has been one of the most punishing.

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If you've got itchy eyes, a runny nose or an scratchy throat, you're not alone.

This winter allergy season has been one of the most punishing.

"We really didn't have a break this year. We went from one problem to another for our noses and our eyes," said Dr. Gary Gross, the director of the allergy and immunology program at Texas Health Presbyterian Dallas.

Gross said his offices have been busy since December. In February, office visits picked up when the cold temperatures dried out allergy cavities.

And when all the ice off the roads melted, the sand from the roads started blowing up in the air, further aggravating North Texas noses, he said. When temperatures warmed up, trees started blooming, putting even more allergens in the air. And the ash from West Texas fires doesn't help either.

Just ask Rachel Shelton.

When her allergies flare up, her symptoms make life unbearable for the Dallas resident.

"I get itchy real deep down in my ears, where I can not get the itch out, itchy in my throat. My eyes start to water," she said. "We can't sit outside on the patio. I can't sit outside and have a cup of coffee."

Shelton said she gave up on over-the-counter medicines and instead went to an allergist to get allergy shots. Once doctors figured out her allergies, she said the shots have helped keep her fairly symptom-free.

"I don't have to deal with sorting the nose spray that makes you feel like you jumped in the deep end of a swimming pool," she said.

Gross said people with allergies can do a few things to ease symptoms. First, wash your pillow cases. He said pillows can collect all the pollen and allergens that stick to your hair during the day.

Also, close your windows -- even when it's nice outside. That will keep pollens from drifting into your home. Also, change your air-conditioning filters to keep them filtering pollens.

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