CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS) - As Spring continues sprouting, pollen counts are climbing and allergy sufferers are feeling sick, especially when experts are saying allergy seasons are starting earlier and lasting longer.
According to the American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology, climate change and rising temperatures are directly linked to yearly increases in the amount of airborne pollen and how long it sticks around.
On a scale of 1 to 10, Damita Clarke rates the strong start to Cape Girardeau's Spring allergy season as a 20.
"There is so much dust in the air. The pollen is crazy," Clarke said "I wake up sneezing approximately ten to twelve times which can be a little challenging. Constant watering of the eyes. The nose constantly running, yeah it gets pretty rough."
Clarke is from St. Louis and says she's never had to see a doctor for allergies until she moved to Cape last year.
"And all of a sudden I have something called sinus mucosal disease," she said. "So I am constantly on medication like Nasacort, Claritin, Benadryl. Those are the only things that can keep the allergies down."
Pharmacist Shannon Neal with Broadway Prescription Shop says more people have been coming in for allergy relief because oak pollen and mold spores are so common this time of year.
"Southeast Missouri has always had some pretty severe allergy seasons," Neal said. "I'm not surprised how they find that the severity of allergy seasons maybe worsening. I think it also has to do with people moving to a new area for school, work or otherwise so they're getting exposed to different climates."
If the nasal spray or oral allergy medication you're currently using isn't working for you, Neal suggests trying a different brand.
"Sometimes that will give you additional relief. Your body may have developed some sort of tolerance to the medication that you are on," Neal said. "If you have tried one inhaled corticosteroid, we can also switch that to a different one because we have several available over the counter now."
Although she is new to dealing with allergies this bad, Clarke says she is still staying positive and is using multiple methods to cope with her symptoms.
"Oh I definitely stick inside a little bit more," Clarke said. "I do go on my nature walks and like coming here to the parks, but other than that, yeah I'm a homebody."
Neals says people with underlying breathing issues like asthma or COPD are most at risk because adding allergy symptoms on top can cause flares and make it even more difficult to breathe. She recommends they take medication before heading outside and keeping it on their person.
"We can relieve those symptoms to improve the quality of your life," Neal said. "Get you out in the sunshine and enjoying your days. You don't need to suffer all allergy season because it can extend several months just depending on how the pollen and mold levels go up and down."