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Although allergens are present all year round, allergy sufferers find the spring and fall months especially troublesome.

Many people who are experiencing sneezing, runny nose and congestion may think they have a common cold, but they actually could be suffering from allergies.  It is believed that 35 percent of the U.S. population has some form of allergic rhinitis says Dr. Richard Bass, professor of otolaryngology at SIU School of Medicine in Springfield.   He explains some common allergens.

SOUND BITE:    “In the springtime, we have trees that are blooming and the grasses that are blooming and these are the most common problems.  In the fall, it’s ragweed season.  In the central Illinois area particularly, it starts around the middle of the August, but all over the state of Illinois it starts sometime in early or late August.”

Dr. Bass says susceptibility to allergies is genetic and usually runs in families.  There is no cure, but there are ways to manage and treat the condition.  The first way is to take steps to identify and avoid the allergy triggers.  He suggests some medications for treating allergies including antihistamines.

SOUND BITE:    “There’s certirizine, which is Zyrtec, and there’s loratadine, fexofenadine and those are the generics.  But there’s a lot of medications like Zyrtec, Claritin, Allegra and there’s some that have D in them which is a decongestion which helps some individuals. But they can also keep you awake at night because of the decongestant affect.”

Dr. Bass recommends shots or medications for individuals whose allergies are not improved by basic treatment options. Anyone suffering from allergies should see their primary care physician, who may refer them to an allergist for further evaluation and possible treatment.

This is Ruth Slottag at SIU School of Medicine in Springfield.