Precautions to take ahead of spring allergy season in Houston

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Allergies are the worst in Houston.

"Just like sneezing, itchy watery eyes, that kind of stuff," Haley Jones said.

Kelsey Seybold Clinic Allergist Eric Sandberg said the spring allergy season usually starts halfway through February, meaning it should start Monday, Feb. 17.

"Ragweed is a big factor for the fall symptoms and oak and pecan pollen are big factors for the spring symptoms," Sandberg said.

Moving to new cities can also improve allergy symptoms for the short-term, but they can return. One viewer told Eyewitness News something similar happened to her when she moved to Austin. She said she spent a lot of time in the pharmacy.

"I did over the counter. So, I started off with Cetirizine Zyrtec," Daniel Pham said. "Then that stopped working for a while, so I started taking Claritin, and then I switched over the Allegra and that seemed to work."

Pham also said she gave home remedies a try.

"I've done honey, like local honey, and I don't know if it works, but it tastes good," Jones said.

ABC13 took your recommendations and questions to the allergist.

"In terms of local honey, it's not likely to be effective because the dose matters," Sandberg said. "We know that really if you want desensitization through oral ingestion of pollen, you have to use very high doses and it's not going to be that healthy to eat that much honey."

Nasal sprays can be taken ahead of spring allergies beginning Monday and the peak of tree pollen comes March.

Dr. Sandberg said not to waste time on allergy-solution myths. He said neither 'spring cleaning' or showering throughout the day will lessen one's symptoms. He advises to be proactive and start taking medicine now and pay attention to the weather.

"As we get warmer weather, the trees will start to pollinate early, and so a very warm winter may bring us an early season in the spring," Sandberg said.

Sandberg added that fall seasonal allergies are more consistent, but the spring is strongly affected by the weather.

A warmer winter means a more severe spring season.

"NOAA gives us this outlook and so heading into the February, March, April months we are noticing that we have warmer than average temperatures and that could lead to an increasing amount of pollen," ABC13 Meteorologist Elita Loresca said.

Sandberg said another thing to keep in mind when Texas experiences a drought, pollen counts can be down initially but they eventually overcompensate for lost pollen production.

Loresca said Texas can expect a moderate to severe drought across the state.

"We're seeing these pockets of abnormally dry conditions, so that has resulted in this mountain cedar and also the pollination of flowers that don't typically bloom until February or March," Loresca said. "You know the bluebonnets, we are already starting to see them."

Once the season hits, the ABC13 weather app will show users what is in the air and what the pollen counts are expected to be throughout the week, according to meteorologists.

SEE ALSO: Easy things you can do to beat allergies when pollen count spikes

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