Spring is (early) in the air

Spring is (early) in the air

March 14th, 2012 by Timara Frassrand in Local Regional News

Even though it may look and feel like spring outside, the official start of the season isn't until March 20.

Exactly nine days after "springing forward" and losing an hour of sleep from daylight saving time, the spring equinox occurs.

This year the astronomical calendar is far from accurate as this has been one of the earliest springs Georgia has seen in years.

And for many that means an earlier and longer allergy season.

"Spring has so many beautiful things to be allergic to, it's both a blessing and a curse," said Marc Cromie, M.D., of Chattanooga Allergy Clinics.

The staff at Chattanooga Allergy Clinics, which has a local office in Fort Oglethorpe, is seeing a definite early spring pollen and a substantial increase in patients across their five offices.

"Usually we see patients coming in with a runny nose and itchy eyes in late March, early April, but they started coming in early February this year," Cromie said.

He said this is the busiest time of the year for him and his staff and it will be that way until June, but said they always make sure to leave spots open for walk-ins.

The predominant allergens are currently tree pollens, which include: alder, ash, beech, birch, cedar, elm, hickory, pine and poplar. Allergies do not mean patients have a weak immune system, but instead a strong one that is overacting to the specific allergen, said Cromie.

There has also been an increase in asthma attacks due to the early warm weather because people don't realize pollen is out, he said. Seventy-five percent of people with asthma have allergies too, according to him.

To prepare for spring allergies Cromie advises to use common sense and find out what you are allergic to. For those who are are allergic, he advises not to have the windows or the doors open, to use lint rollers on dogs and cats when they come in from being outside, and to start taking allergy medications pre-season.

Chattanooga Allergy Clinics administer more than 500 allergy shots a day to their patients and those are the ones who are doing the best this season, said Cromie.

"Allergy shots are more of a cure because not only are they cost effective, but it makes allergies go away instead of just covering up the problem," he said.