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Mild winter brings onset of symptoms

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, ILL. (February 20, 2013) - Even though the flu season is coming to an end, relief is not yet in store for the 50 million Americans that suffer from allergies. While February is a month associated with snow in the northern areas of the country, it is also the start of allergy season.

"We are already seeing patients coming in with allergy symptoms in Atlanta," said allergist Stanley Fineman, MD, immediate past president of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI). "Because it is still February, several people in the southeast have been confusing their allergy symptoms for cold viruses."

The reason for the sniffle season? According to ACAAI, hardwood deciduous trees, such as maple, oak, elm, and birch pollinate in some regions beginning in February.

While it's difficult to detect the severity this spring sneezing season will bring, traditionally, the milder the winter, the longer the season will be due to what is known as the priming effect.

"When winter weather turns unexpectedly warm, pollens and molds are released into the air earlier than usual, and then die down when it gets cold again," said Dr. Fineman. "This pattern of weather can prime a person's allergic reaction, so when the allergen reappears as the weather gets warm again, allergy symptoms are worse than ever."

For those living in regions where pollen counts have not yet increased, ACAAI recommends sufferers begin taking medication now and make an appointment with their board-certified allergist. Allergies can strike at any age, so even if someone has never had seasonal allergy symptoms, they can start at any stage in life.

If you have symptoms of allergy or asthma, you can locate a free screening in your area by visiting Screenings will begin in May and will take place at about 100 locations nationwide throughout the year.

For more information on allergies and asthma, and to locate an allergist, please visit


The ACAAI is a professional medical organization of more than 6,000 allergists-immunologists and allied health professionals, headquartered in Arlington Heights, Ill. The College fosters a culture of collaboration and congeniality in which its members work together and with others toward the common goals of patient care, education, advocacy and research. ACAAI allergists are board-certified physicians trained to diagnose allergies and asthma, administer immunotherapy, and provide patients with the best treatment outcomes. For more information and to find relief, visit Join us on Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter.

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