Unseasonably warm weather triggers early allergy season in Chicago

While enjoying the warmer temperatures this month, have you noticed an increase in sneezing and sniffling? It's not your imagination; the unseasonably warm temperatures are causing allergies to flare up earlier than usual.

Dr. Rachna Shah, who leads the Loyola Medicine Allergy Count, has observed a higher number of patients seeking treatment than usual. Conducting tests, she found abnormally high pollen levels for this month, primarily from trees.

Her advice to allergy sufferers includes keeping windows closed, changing clothes immediately upon returning home, and keeping pets off the bed. She also suggests using over-the-counter medicines, though patients may need to switch brands periodically as the effectiveness of antihistamines can diminish over time.

"It is common that the effectiveness of that antihistamines seems to wear off scientifically, I don't understand why that's the case," Dr. Shah said. "Some are stronger than others, but they all work essentially the same way. But many patients will find that either cycling like every month and switching the different types of antihistamines or even switching every year."

For those using nasal sprays, Dr. Shah advises patience, noting that although relief may be felt initially, it typically takes about a week of consistent use for them to take full effect.