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Arid climate, windy conditions cause allergy problems

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Dry and windy conditions are contributing to an explosion of grass and tree pollens that are causing sinus misery for thousands of allergy sufferers.

``Spring this year is coming up very big for pollens,'' said Dr. Warren Filley with the Oklahoma Allergy and Asthma Clinic in Oklahoma City.

Recent tree-pollen counts were some of the highest in memory, according to the allergy clinic, and grass pollens are expected to be the same.

Filley said rain tends to knock down pollens, which are tiny, egg-shaped cells of flowering grasses and trees.

Allergy symptoms are often minimal on rainy, cloudy days because pollen doesn't move about during those conditions. April has been one of the driest months in state history.

Dry and windy weather causes greater pollen distribution and increased allergy symptoms known as rhinitis or hay fever, Filley said.

Pollen-induced allergies can affect anyone from children to adults. As many as 660,000 _ about one in five _ Oklahomans have seasonal allergy symptoms, Filley said.

Common symptoms include sneezing, congestion, a scratchy throat, watery or itchy eyes and itchy ears.

Filley said allergy sufferers need to take precautions to prevent allergy attacks.

He recommends:

Do a thorough spring cleaning. Windows, book shelves and air conditioning vents collect dust and mold during the winter that can provoke allergy symptoms.

Postpone outdoor activities until later in the morning. Pollens usually are emitted between 5 and 10 a.m.

If possible, use air conditioning instead of open windows.

When traveling in a vehicle, have windows up and air conditioning on.

Stay indoors on hot, dry and windy days.

Don't hang laundry out to dry; allergens will collect on clothes.

Don't mow the lawn or rake leaves without a filter mask.

Wash bedding weekly in hot water.

Shower and wash hair nightly before going to bed.

Treat seasonal allergies. Antihistamines and steroids can be effective in controlling symptoms.
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