March into Spring Allergy Season
By Christina Elston

Spring allergy season is upon us. And your family's first line of defense against the season's biggest offender - pollen - is simple: Keep the windows closed.

That's the advice of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI). "Then you're not letting any pollen in," says academy spokesperson Philip Gallagher, M.D.

If your children have intermittent allergy symptoms, stock up on over-the-counter medications. But for persistent symptoms, Gallagher recommends starting a prescription steroid nasal spray one to two weeks before the spring weather hits.

If your children are older than 4 or 5, and are using preventive medications for more than 12 weeks per year - or if those medications never quite bring relief - consider immunotherapy (allergy shots). However, you'll need to start the injections about six months before the season hits for relief.

"If you see an allergist [in November], then there's something we can do for next spring," Gallagher says.

For help finding an allergist in your area, visit the AAAAI online at

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Christina Elston is a senior editor and health writer for Dominion Parenting Media.