NEW YORK (CBS) Spring allergy season is back with a vengeance, and for many people that means sneezing or itchy eyes. If you feel like your symptoms are especially bad this year, you're not alone.
All you have to do is look at the layer of what looks like yellow dust all over your car to know it's pretty bad.
"You can't go out, you can't ride a bike, you can't exercise," allergy sufferer Patricia Ospina said. "Last night I actually had a really bad attack and it was so bad I was going to end up in the emergency room."
Ospina has plenty of company, considering 50 million Americans suffer from seasonal allergies.
Dr. Gregory Levitin from the NY Eye and Ear Infirmary of Mt. Sinai says the past two weeks may be the busiest he's ever had. The reason is that this year we've had an unusually cold April, followed by a sudden hot spell that caused trees, grass, and weeds to bloom and release bursts of pollen all together.
"We're having a blend of spring and summer," Dr. Clifford Bassett from the American College Of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology said. "As a result of that the plants are flourishing and pollen count is rising. Every day it doesn't rain, pollen count gets higher and higher."
While the best treatment is to take allergy medicines before the season kicks into high gear, a few simple steps at home can also help:
-When the pollen count is high, try to stay inside.
-Close doors and windows to keep allergens out and run air conditioners or air fiters.
-Clean your air filters, bookshelves, and vents regularly where pollen collects.
-Vacuum twice a week while wearing a mask since pollen, mold, and dust can collect on your carpet.
-If you've been outside, experts recommend you take off your shoes and outer clothes and wipe yourself down.
"Take a nighttime shower so you're not rolling around in pollen all night while you sleep," Dr. Levitin said.
Saline nasal rinses help, and several non-sedating antihistamines are now available over the counter. Prescription nasal steroid sprays, allergy shots, and even oral drops can all reduce suffering.
The key in any case is to get started before it gets bad.