Allergies come early for valley residents

POSTED: 09:15 PM PDT Mar 25, 2013 
PALM DESERT, Calif. -

Millions suffer from allergies across the nation, and this year they can expect more of all that sneezing, sniffling and scratching.  Experts already warn this allergy season could be the worst yet.  The allergy season is expected to start fourteen days earlier than usual in many parts of the country.  Seasonal allergies are expected to lost about thirty days longer than normal.  Flowers in bloom, birds chirping, people walking around enjoying the warm weather-- all sights and sounds to prove spring has sprung at the Living Desert.  Look a little closer and you can see what millions of people dread every year: pollen flying through the air, ushering in an early allergy season. "A lot of sinus pressure, a lot of draining, standard allergies, it's just been really bad," said Jeff Peterson, a visitor to the park. 

Allergy season came especially early to the Coachella Valley.  "Well, I arrived yesterday and I noticed a lot of sniffles," said Shannon Butler, who was visiting from Canada.  "I saw a lot of flowers, and I figured it must be the pollen."

Warm spring temperatures in the desert create an ideal situation for flora to grow.   "Plants like what humans like, so when it gets to be over 100 degrees they don't like it and when it gets to be near freezing weather they don't like it," said Dr. David Waldman, an allergist at Eisenhower Medical Center.  "This year the perfect weather is here now."  He also adds not to forget about the trees, grasses and weeds.  "You never forget if you have allergies in the Coachella Valley, it's the golf course capital of the world," said Dr. Waldman.  "We have more golf courses than any other place in the world.  Golf courses are always beautiful and they're always producing pollen."

In an effort to deal with the early allergy season, doctors encourage allergy sufferers to get proactive.  "Left the house well medicated, I've got my antihistamines, my nose sprays, I'm well trained at it now," said Peterson.

"So it's simple antihistamines, it's cortisone nose drops and if those don't work, then you have to be tested so you can get a long term immune plan," said Dr. Waldman.

Doctors also give the following advice:  not waiting until symptoms are at their worst before taking anti-allergy medication, using oversize sunglasses and hats to keep pollen from eyes and hair, and taking a shower and changing clothes to keep pollen away from the sleeping area.