AKRON, Ohio - If you suffer from spring allergies and feel like your symptoms are worse than ever, experts say it may not be your imagination.
Amanda Anderson, a nurse practitioner at an Akron CVS Minute Clinic, said she has seen a surge in people complaining of severe allergy symptoms.
"People are coming in thinking they have strep and it's just all post-nasal drip. It's horrible. They're all thick and stuffy," Anderson said.
Dr. Nancy Wasserbauer, an allergist and immunologist at Akron Children's Hospital, said her office has also been very busy with patients.
"The tree pollen allergy counts are very high. We know that, but it's hard to predict from year to year how bad the pollen is going to be from one year to the next," Dr. Wasserbauer said.
It's not uncommon for allergy sufferers to say the season is miserable, but this spring seems to be taking more of a toll.
"My ears itch. I know when my ears itch that it's really bad. My eyes get itchy, a little bit of nasal stuff. I was coughing all night last night," said Lynne Sherwin of Akron.
Billions of tiny pollens in the air trigger springtime allergy problems, including itching in the nose, throat and eyes, sneezing, tearing eyes, stuffy nose and dark circles under the eyes.
Angela McCreery, an office worker at Akron Children's Hospital, gets allergies each spring, but feels this has been her toughest battle yet.
"I often just want to kind of lay in bed and let the medication do its job, not wanting to get out as much with my kids particularly," McCreery said.
Dr. Wasserbauer said people should take their allergy medications prior to the high pollen counts so your body is ready.
Other preventative measures include wearing sunglasses and hats to prevent pollen from going into your eyes or nose, and take a shower at night so you're not sleeping with an allergen in your hair.
If oral medications, nasal sprays or eye drops don't help, allergy shots may provide relief to people with chronic problems.
"Over time, you'll tolerate being exposed to the pollen and not have symptoms anymore," Dr. Wasserbauer said.