It's not just spring that's in the air. It's pollen.
When everything is in bloom, the allergy season kicks in. "Your body starts to fight you," said Todd Uherick, a Roanoke resident who has allergies including asthma.
"I don't get watery eyes, but my sinuses get more clogged. My asthma is a little more tricky to control," Uherick said.
Like many others Uherick has gotten a series of allergy shots to build up his immunity to allergens.
Dr. Thomas Fame is with the Allergy and Asthma Center in Salem. He said the late blast of winter weather meant maple trees did not begin to pollinate in February as they typically would.
"So this year it's going to pretty bad because the maple trees are going to be pollinating along with all of the other trees," said Dr. Fame. "And they're just going to be coming out of the starting gate running, so it's going to be a really bad tree pollen season."
If you're feeling itchy watery eyes and a scratchy throat it may be all that pollen in the air, but Dr. Fame said it's not necessarily an allergy. In fact about half the patients who come in with symptoms don't have allergies.
"If you're really allergic and your symptoms are due to allergies you feel tired because an allergy response is your immune system going after pollen," explained Dr. Fame. "It's kind of like you've got this low level cold so it makes people tired. It's more than just itchy eyes and nose. It's a systemic effect of feeling tired and fatigued."
Dr. Fame said it's hard to tell if someone is truly allergic. He said that's what his office is for and allergy testing can determine exactly what someone is allergic to.
Meanwhile just this month the Food and Drug Administration gave approval to a new drug in the tool to fight allergies.
Oralair works in the same way that allergy shots do- by helping your body build up an immunity to an allergen. The patient must take a pill for months before allergy season by putting it under the tongue every day.
"I'm not that excited," Dr. Fame said. That's because Dr .Fame said Oralair only works for one allergen grass pollen.
"It's the Timothy grass family. It doesn't treat warm weather grass like Bermuda. It doesn't treat rag weed or weeds. It doesn't treat tree pollen which is the big pollen in this area. It doesn't treat dust mites, cats dogs or mold," Dr. Fame said.
At $500 a month for Oralair Dr. Fame said it not as cost effective as allergy shots which can treat many allergens.
"It's good for specific cases if someone is only allergic to grass but rarely do you see that. I think this year I've seen maybe one person just to allergic to grass," Dr. Fame said.
Todd Uherick used to mow the lawn and then suffer the effects afterwards. "And you don't realize it until after you're done and you get inside and you're sitting there and all of a sudden you realize you can't breathe really well," Uherick said.
Uherick gets shots to control his allergies. He started about four years ago and now gets a shot every three to four weeks.
"What I've been doing here has helped me a lot," Uherick said. "I've cut back on my asthma inhaler, half the dosage of what I used to be. I don't have to take allergy pill as often as I used to as well. It's been great"
Those allergy shots Dr. Fame said are still the gold standard in treating allergies. While he said studies show Oralair offers some relief in up to half the patients who use it, he's not sold on it.
"People sell things and it does have some effectiveness," said Dr. Fame. "But it's not something I'm going to jump on right away."
Two other drugs that are similar to Oralair are in the pipeline for FDA approval this summer. As always talk to your doctor if you have allergies and the two of you can figure out the best treatment for you.