Spring is in full swing, and so are those pesky seasonal allergies, which are already making life miserable -- and not just for chronic allergy sufferers.

So, what's going on? Plenty, according to Dr. Clifford Bassett, Director of Allergy & Asthma Care Of New York -- starting with the weather.

"Winter weather, early spring and most areas of the United StatesÂ… a lot of precipitation, a lot of water priming the pump, priming those trees also global warming. There is more pollen as a result of carbon dioxide, greenhouse gases,[which] tells the plants to produce more pollen, the pollen itself maybe more powerful, spelling misery for those allergy sufferers...," Dr. Bassett explains.

Data shows more than 35 million people in the United States suffer from allergies. Dr. Bassett says there are ways to manage your allergies, beginning with the pollen count.

"Pollen count is a lot like the weather forecast. Go to your local forecast. Go to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology and other websites to get your pollen count for your zip code, he says, adding you can do your own "pollen forecasting."

He explains that on hot days and windy days, pollen levels are very high, typically. They're also higher in the early morning, and usually come down later in the day.

So, if you're an allergy sufferer, you can get a jump on things and plan your day. In addition to this, he says you should see an allergist and map out a program of treatment; get tested and make sure you have seasonal allergies...

"The best thing is that there are successful treatments that are around, they are easy to do, and they do actually work," Dr. Bassett says.


So what kind of treatments work the best? Allergists say pre-treatment, early treatment is the best way to go. For instance, Dr. Barrett says, if you know you're going to be outside on a high pollen day and going to be mowing the lawn, check your pollen count, take your medications (like Claritin and Benadrayl) as prescribed before you're exposed.

"You can have a much better outcome, the medication is going to work better, and you're going to be much more comfortable, when you're out with Mother Nature."

Dr. Steve Salvatore says he tells his patients don't wait till you have the symptoms, because he says, "if you have the symptoms, it's already too late and you're behind the eight ball, and you're playing catch up...," Dr. Salvatore says adding, it's definitely not the way to handle things...

He also says -- believe it, or not -- washing your hair and the time of day you wash your hair is critical for prevention.

Dr. Bassett piggy-backs of Dr. Steve's point. "I tell my patients to wash wisely. Shampoo your hair in the evenings, when the pollen has accumulated... because your hair is like a pollen magnet...also just shampooing your eyelids, nasal irrigation. All of this dislodges the pollens...remove the source of allergy suffering, and you're going to feel better," Dr. Bassett explains.

Now that the weather is warming up, people are beginning to sleep with the windows open for the cool air. Dr. Salvatore points out that's not a good idea for allergy sufferers. He advises them to close their windows during allergy season and get a humidifier.

How does that help?

"Air purifiers contain HEPA-filters, they're excellent in removing allergens, and pollutants from the home. Again, we spend a lot of time indoors. We want to keep the air clean -- particularly if you have pet allergies, which are about 10 percent of those, who have allergies. So, it's an important device. Having a HEPA-filter to do the job, improves the air quality indoors," he adds.

Then, there are fruits and vegetables -- which moms, pediatricians, dieticians and nutritionists all agree are crucial to a balanced diet. However, they can be a big problem for people with allergies.

Dr. Bassett says about a third of people who have seasonal allergies experience "Oral Allergy Syndrome," [It] is characterized by itchiness of the mouth and throat due to exposure to proteins that are in certain fruits, vegetables, nuts and spices. He says the proteins "cross react" with the pollen, like the birch pollen and tree pollen that are in the air right now. Even brews like hazelnut coffee can spell trouble for the allergy sufferer, triggering an episode of "Oral Allergy Syndrome."