Valentine’s Day is a week behind us, and there is still a month to go until the official beginning of spring. You may think you have plenty of time before you have to start thinking about spring allergies, but actually, the best time to start dealing with them is now.What causes spring allergies? Spring allergies are typically caused by tree pollens, grass pollens, and molds. Symptoms include sneezing, nasal stuffiness, a runny nose, itchy and watery eyes, and coughing. People should be proactive, not reactive, when dealing with allergies. Symptoms are much better controlled if you start treatment before the sneezing and sniffling begins, and ENT physicians generally tell patients to start thinking about it around Valentine’s Day. CEENTA Otolaryngologist Hunter Hoover, MD, equates dealing with spring allergies to filling a bucket with water. “You can tolerate a certain amount of things you’re allergic to. There’s room in the bucket before you develop symptoms, but once it fills up and the water’s overflowing it’s really hard to stop the process at that point.”How to treat spring allergies? The best treatments are nasal steroid sprays, such as Flonase, Rhinocort, and Nasacort. All are available over the counter, all are equally effective, and all are equally safe and not addictive, Dr. Hoover said. Also, unlike something like prednisone, the sprays are a low dose of steroids. If sprays don’t work, you should see an ENT doctor for additional testing and to see if immunotherapy shots, drops, or tablets are warranted. They can also tell you if your symptoms are actually from allergies, or if they’re from something else, like a deviated septum. Don’t let your allergies sneak up on you. Get a jump on them and help yourself breathe easier this spring. This blog is for informational purposes only. For specific medical questions, please consult your physician. Dr. Hoover practices in our SouthPark office. To make an appointment with him or any of our ENT physicians, call 704-295-3000.