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Mild Winter Could Lead To Early Allergy Season

CHICAGO (CBS) -- The next time you think you're suffering from a cold or the flu, your real problem might be this mild winter. Seasonal allergies are expected to start earlier this year.

CBS 2's Roseanne Tellez reports the warm weather could lead to a lot of aching, sniffling and sneezing soon for allergy sufferers.

With all this warm weather continuing, spring could be right around the corner, and it's only February. Allergists say it doesn't bode well for allergy sufferers.

"It's brutal, I can't even open my eyes," said allergy sufferer Kevin Andjulis, who said he already has "non-stop" allergy symptoms.

"It's bad. I carry Kleenex with me everywhere I go," Andjulis said. "It's got to be the change in the weather. You know, one day its 10 degrees, the next day it's 40, it's 50, who knows?"

Allergist Dr. Anju Peters said the weather will impact allergies this year., but he said right now, people like Andjulis are more likely suffering from indoor allergens.

"Since you're inside a lot more, you would be exposed to dust mites a lot more; and, potentially would be exposed to pet allergens a lot more," she said.

If you have seasonal allergies, too, be warned: tulip bulbs are blooming already, and all signs point to a very early spring..

"You may potentially suffer year-round," Peters said. "We expect the tree pollens to pollenate, probably, earlier. We should see our spring allergy sufferers start to suffer much earlier in the season."

The best defense, Peters said, is to find out exactly what you're allergic to, and avoid it.

A simple test will tell you.

"The runny nose, itchy eyes, sneezing, congestion; it affects your quality of sleep, it affects your school work, your regular work. You may not perform at your best," Peters said.

Beyond medication, Peters said one of the best things you can do is use a neti pot or sinus rinse. The idea is to flush your sinuses.

But a big caution, doctors are discovering that these can lead to serious infection if you don't sterilize the pot or bottle after each use. Microwave for about two minutes every couple of days.

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