Although this spring seems to be off to a slow start, flowers and trees will soon bloom with life.

To some, this is an enjoyable time of year to be outside and appreciate nature. But for millions of others, springtime brings a bane like no other: allergy season.

Allergies are an immune response to one's environment and cause the body to become hypersensitive to certain substances, like pollen.

And unfortunately - despite the strange weather York County has been having - allergy season is already under way.

In fact, local allergy specialists say the recent snow will actually be nourishing for nature. The wet ground, coupled with recent bouts of warm weather, will make for a beautiful spring - but it will also make for ugly allergy symptoms.

"It's bittersweet," said Dr. Michelle Weiss, a provider at the Family Center for Allergy and Asthma in York Township.

She said the wind carries tree pollens here from hundreds of miles away, and even though the trees here still look very much like winter, Yorkers are still being exposed to allergens.

She said her office has had increased phone calls for a couple weeks, with complaints ranging from itchy eyes and runny noses to increased asthma symptoms.

She said this allergy season will probably peak within the next four weeks, as that time is usually the normal peak.

How to beat your symptoms: To treat allergy symptoms, environmental control measures are the first line of defense, Weiss said.


Don't open windows or hang clothing outside, and try to take showers or baths at end of day in order to clean any allergens from the body, she said.

"You don't have to suffer from the itchy eyes, runny nose and exhaustion from allergies," she said. "You can get really good, safe help."

She added that many over-the-counter medications are effective, non-sedating and safe - some even permit use on infants of 6 months of age. And persistent symptoms can be treated with injections that "re-educate the immune system," she said.

Symptoms are very much like the beginning of a cold, said Ann De Bien, a nurse practitioner at Allergy & Asthma Consultants in Spring Garden Township.

"I would highly recommend for them to come in and be evaluated," she said. "It really helps to know exactly what it is that you're allergic to."

She said some dog or cat owners might notice symptoms and blame it on their pets - which is partially right because indoor-outdoor pets are exposed to pollen and can bring it inside, she said. A visit to a doctor can clarify the source of the problem.

"Knowledge is a very good thing," she said. "We can do a lot to help people."