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Spring allergies hitting early, could be more severe this year

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Spring is in the air, but if you suffer from seasonal allergies, you might be wishing it wasn't.

Luetta Ontiveros did her best to enjoy the outdoors with her family Monday, but spring allergies made it tough.

"Little coughing in the throat, my eyes are watering right now," Ontiveros says.

Ontiveros, like 40 million other Americans, suffers from seasonal allergies.

Being around trees and grasses can lead to miserable symptoms: "Stuffy nose, dripping nose, watery eyes," Ontiveros says. "Not fun at all."

Allergies are hitting earlier than normal, according to Dr. Christina Barnes, an allergist at the South Bend Clinic.

It could mean that this allergy season is gearing up to be a bad one.

"Already last week we had high tree pollen levels which we sometimes don't get until the second part of April," Barnes explains, "which does suggest we may be well on our way to a high-pollen year."

The weather could provide some relief. Spring showers can help lower the pollen count, and there is a chance of rain in the forecast every day this week.

But rain would only delay the inevitable, Barnes says.

"That will just mean that in a couple of weeks it'll be back," Barnes says.

There are things allergy sufferers can do every day -- besides taking medication -- to keep symptoms at bay.

Barnes suggests shutting your windows and your doors, relying on air conditioning instead.

Pollen levels peak in the morning, so if possible, wait to do outdoor activies until after 10 a.m.

If you've been outside for a while and are feeling symptoms, take a shower to rinse any pollen off.

If none of that seems to help, Ontiveros says weekly allergy shots work for her.

"I got skin tested, started the allergy shots, and it seems to help a lot," Ontiveros says.

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