Sneezing, wheezing, itching?

If you suffer from seasonal allergies and think they’re worse here on the East End than ever before, you might be right.

Erin McGintee recently returned to her roots here after practicing in
Princeton, N.J. Now with Peconic Ear Nose Throat and Facial Plastic
Surgery in Riverhead, she said that her own allergies are worse here
than they were in New Jersey.

“It’s been pretty rough this year,”
Dr. McGintee said in a telephone interview last week. She grew up in
Aquebogue and doesn’t remember an allergy season this brutal.

Fellow allergist Lawrence Walser, who practices in Riverhead, blames
an early, warm spring that followed heavy March rains. Flowers and
leaves have been blooming earlier and the amount of pollen in the air
is high, Dr. Walser said.

So what’s an allergy sufferer to do?

first step is to identify the problem, Dr. McGintee said. It’s that
age-old question this time of year: Is it an allergy, a cold or
something else?

“It can be tricky,” Dr. McGintee said about
determining the answer. There are a few general guidelines. Allergies
won’t cause a fever, she said. Patients rarely get itching with a cold
and allergies generally don’t cause body aches and pains, she said.

you’re convinced it’s an allergy, try to determine your triggers and do
your best to avoid them, Dr. McGintee said. Stay inside, especially in
the morning when the pollen count is highest, she said. And shower at
night. That way, you won’t be taking to bed the pollen that has
accumulated on your body all day. Keep your windows closed when the
pollen count is high, she said.

“It’s probably going to last a
while,” Dr. Walser said of the spring allergy season. And there’s not a
lot that’s new in his arsenal of medications to treat your symptoms, he

Pills, nasal sprays and use of neti pots to clear your
sinuses are the basic treatments; there isn’t any new class of
medications for seasonal allergies, he said. The brand names may
change, but the basic medication remains the same.

Can you depend on over-the-counter medications?

many patients, the answer is yes, Dr. McGintee said. But if they’re not
working and post-nasal drip is bad, you may need a prescription, she

Not fond of medications? There’s another route: acupuncture.

it something new in the arsenal of treatments for allergies? Licensed
acupuncturist Kaitlyn Mitchell, who practices in Aquebogue, laughs at
the question.

“It’s been used for 3,000 or 4,000 years,” she said.

beauty about acupuncture is it’s customized to the person who’s using
it,” said licensed acupuncturist Michelle Iona of Riverhead.

“It’s based on energetically balancing the body,” said Southold licensed acupuncturist Susan Meyer.

three recommended that if you go the acupuncture route, you should
choose a licensed acupuncturist, not someone who is only “certified” in
the practice. A licensed acupuncturist has thousands of hours of
experience; a certified acupuncturist may have only a few hundred hours
of experience, Ms. Iona said.

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