Allergy Sufferers Get No Relief

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Have you been experiencing a scratchy throat, watery eyes or the sniffles lately? If so, you could be allergic to sagebrush which is in full bloom right now.

Stefanie McCaffrey goes to the doctor once a week to get her allergy shots. She has tried over-the-counter medicines and prescription drugs - but shots seem to be the only thing that somewhat alleviates her suffering.

In describing the suffering she goes through, McCaffrey says: "Can't breathe, eyes water, throat itches, sneezing constantly - ears plug up - it is miserable."

And this year, it's more miserable than normal.

Our heavy and frequent summer storms caused the sagebrush to
bloom larger than average, making this year's pollen count
unusually high.

Dr. Leonard Shapiro\Allergy & Clinical Immunology]
"With allergies the best think you can do is avoid what
you can avoid but with pollen that's pretty much
impossible to do," says Dr. Leonard Shapiro. "You can do thinks like keep the windows closed, use air conditioning - wash and brush your hair before going to bed to get the pollen out but in reality, you can't avoid pollen."

Dr. Shapiro says in addition to the high pollen count, allergy sufferers may find it particularly bad right now because tumbleweed began to bloom in July and many people who are allergic to tumbleweed are also allergic to sagebrush.

"This year I've noticed August and September have been to the point where I have to keep the house closed up, air conditioning on and if anyone ever comes close to me with something in their clothes, I'll start sneezing," says McCaffrey.

Stefanie is allergic to just about everything in the air so she has to get shots. But for less drastic cases, Dr. Shapiro says you can get over-the-counter antihistamines and decongestants. There are also plenty of prescription medications including nose sprays and eye drops.

If none of that works, that's when you need to be evaluated for shots.

If you think you might have allergies but you're not sure, Dr. Shapiro says one easy way to figure it out is to check the pollen count and see if the high pollen for one type of plant corresponds with you having a particularly allergic day.