SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Stock up on tissues... And antihistamines.
Local allergists say this spring is expected to be a "heavy" allergy season, thanks in part to the recent rains.
"Following rains and then things dry out, that is when the plants pollinate," said Dr. Myron Liebhaber, an Allergy and Immunology expert at Sansum Clinic.
Liebhaber had an appointment Friday morning with Javier, a third grader from Cleveland Elementary School, and his mother. Javier was suffering from an allergy flare-up with a stopped-up nose and lots of itching.
"Lots of patos (Spanish for "ducks") in there," Liebhaber joked and quacked as he looked in the boy's nose.
A new blanket of green growth covering our mountains after an unusually wet winter means different types of grasses and weeds will be popping up in the coming months.
Liebhaber said the peak of the allergy season isn't here yet.
"We've been doing the pollen count for 30 yers and it's always kind of the same ... always in the spring, the trees pollinate. Then later in the spring, the grasses, and they usually pollinate very heavy here in town. And then late in the summer into the fall, the weeds. So, it always goes trees, grasses, and then weeds."
Liebhaber offered up tips for allergy sufferers: keep the grasses at home mowed. He said grass does not pollinate until it's "long and leggy," as he puts it. He also recommends washing your hair before you go to bed, that way you're not sleeping with a head full of pollen.
The allergist said relief can be found without a prescription.
"All the medicines we used to prescribe as prescriptions are now over the counter," Liebhaber said. "So, that's antihistamines, nasal sprays, steroid nasal sprays, and eye drops, which are very good. Ask the pharmacist for recommendations."
Liebhaber will celebrate his 41st year this August as founder of Camp Wheez, a day camp for first through sixth graders with asthma.
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