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Seasonal Allergies Primed To Bring Misery To Bay Area Residents

(KPIX 5) -- After all the Bay Area's rain and now a bit of warm weather, spring is in the air.  But so is a lot of pollen and allergy specialists say it's important to take action early before things get too miserable.

"I hate it, I hate it, I hate this time of year.  I need a couple earplugs to put in my nose," said East Bay resident Gerald Dalen as he brushed asphalt sealer onto a Concord parking lot.  Dalen said whatever's in the air has kept his nose running all day.  Rain, sunshine and wind - the combination has turned the green Diablo hills with their long, waving grasses into a pollen factory, sending their microscopic nose missiles straight into cities like Concord and Walnut Creek.

"The pollen is able to travel sometimes 20 miles and it is certainly being spread evenly around the county," said allergy specialist Dr. Bruce Paterson.  Patients come to his Concord offices before they start sneezing to get allergy shots, each one specially tailored to the individual.

LINKS: Seasonal Allergy Facts & Myths
WebMD | Everyday Health | US News & World Report

"So, the shots are working to train the body to develop its own protection against the things that someone is allergic to," said Paterson.  "And that's a process that's done over years."

Kerry Borgan swears by it.  Her allergies worsened when she moved to Martinez from Southern California. After years of suffering she began a series of twice-a-week injections and now follows a regular maintenance schedule.

"I will tell you that it's changed my life as far as allergies go," Borgan said.  "I don't have the issues anymore.  I can go on long hikes."

But don't tell that to Dalen as he struggled to work in the parking lot.  He told this reporter he would just power through his allergies.

"I don't like to take pills.  I don't like to take stuff like that so I don't do it, you know?" he said.  "I'm one of the guys who just suffers through everything."

Paterson says there are therapies that can help but it requires being proactive.  Or people can do what's more common; wait until they feel terrible and then treat the symptoms.

But he does have this warning to those trying to tough it out: our current weather, with alternating periods of rain and sunshine, can prolong allergy season clear into June and sometimes even July.


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