March 24, 2004 at 10:33 PM CST - Updated June 26 at 9:54 PM
Flowers are blooming and trees are budding. Spring is here, and we all know what that means:allergies!
Pollen is everywhere, in the air, on the streets, even on cars. It's making people miserable.
"I don't even want to go outside. I want to start wearing a mask," says one woman.
"I am dealing with a stuffy nose, runny nose, drainage," says another allergy sufferer.
Over-the-counter treatments like Claritin can ease your symptoms, but only if you can find it.
"I went to the store Saturday and they were sold out. Everywhere I went was sold out," says Vickie Hawthorne.
Vickie, who works as a pharmacy tech at Target, says she didn't treat her allergies with any medicine for a few days. As a result, she's now dealing with more than just allergies. She's got a sinus and chest infection.
Dr. Paul Sharkey says we can all learn a lot from Vickie, because the longer you ignore your allergies, the sicker you can get.
"Keeping your allergies under control, particularly the stuffiness, is probably one of the best things you can do. The reason is because your congestion can affect your ears, your sinuses. If you have asthma, it can affect your lungs. It can even effect how you sleep," he says.
Dr. Sharkey says the best way to ward off an infection is to treat your allergies with medicine, but if you can't find your brand in the stores, or if the medicine isn't doing enough for you, he offers this advice.
"Most pollen is out early in the morning, so if you can be out afternoon or evening, you'll do a little better," says Dr. Sharkey.
And if your kids are suffering, pharmacists recommend giving them Claritin Ready Tabs. They work quickly and there is no pill to swallow.