Environment
4:53 pm
Thu March 22, 2012

Sneezing, coughing, itching? Thank Michigan's early spring

Doctors’ offices in Michigan are filled with people suffering from acute allergies, thanks to the early bloom of trees and shrubs.

Some types of pollen are three to four times higher than normal for this time of year.

Mark Zacharek  is an associate professor of otolaryngology -- ear, nose and throat disorders -- at University of Michigan Hospital.

He says tree pollen and outdoor mold counts are making people miserable.  For people who already have respiratory problems, that can be dangerous.

"If asthma is not under control and the pollen count is high, this can make asthma worse. So those are folks who really need to be watching things closely with regard to their breathing."

Zacharek says saline sprays and over-the-counter oral antihistamines can help. But if you're still sick after a week to 10 days, it's time to see your doctor.

"There are prescription medications, such as topical steroid nasal sprays and other medications that your primary care  physician or an allergist or ENT doctor can prescribe," he says."

Zacharek recommends staying indoors, closing windows, using air conditioning and a basement dehumidifier.

He also says exposure to indoor allergens -- such as pet danders, dust mites and houseplants  -- can also aggravate allergy symptoms.