Allergy season hits the Rochester area

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — As allergy season hits with a vengeance, Rochesterians are dealing with sneezes, congestion, and uncertainty about whether they’re contending with their usual spring misery… or maybe COVID.

Sure enough, our switch from cold temperatures last week to very warm ones this week have brought blossoms opening up across the state.

“I think it’s longer, and started a little bit earlier this year,” said Chris Casey, owner of the Mead Square Pharmacy in Victor. “But it still hasn’t its full peak.”

Casey said he’s hearing from numerous doctors calling in allergy prescriptions and seeing numerous patients, like Erin Nye.

“Things are blooming and the allergies are worse than they have been,” she said.

For pollen problems, this season, the Asthma and Allergy Foundation ranks Rochester as less severe than Buffalo or Albany, but still on its list of the country’s “allergy capitals.”

And this year’s season comes with the question… “Is this my usual allergies, or coronavirus?”, which has many similar symptoms. Dr. Stephen Cook at Golisano Children’s Hospital said that confusion can keep people from spotting COVID, so beware if your usual allergy meds don’t seem to work.

“If you have something that, it seems like your allergies,” he said, “and then something different, definitely fever, sore throat, headaches, something seems to be getting worse also. Consider getting tested.”

Erin Nye says she has no such confusion based on her own experience with viruses, one after another before the pollen hit her next.

“Influenza, to COVID, to allergies!” she laughed, “in the last month, six weeks. I love New York!”

Doctors and pharmacists alike say if you are vulnerable, get treatment early, like nasal steroids, now available over the counter, to get a jump on the worst of your allergies.

“If you have allergy symptoms, start taking those medications,” Cook said, “as opposed to getting behind on symptoms and then you got runny nose, itchy eyes for a couple of days before your medicines really start kicking in.”

Medications aside, Casey has one more suggestion: Deep clean the house. Maybe change those air filters so you don’t get the exposure to those allergens in the first place.