LITTLE ROCK, Ark — Natalie James has lived in Little Rock most of her life and has had allergies all of her life. She used to get injections, taking allergy shots along with medications to limit symptoms.
She says she had a flare-up recently from pollen off of Dogwood trees.
"All the pretty white trees that are blooming right now? That's what made my allergies go haywire. I started looking like Hitch and my eyes were draining and my nose," said James.
Springtime in Arkansas is usually the worst time of the year for allergies. The allergy season usually starts in mid-February.
Eddie Shields, MD is an allergy and asthma specialist with Arkansas Allergy Asthma Clinic. He says now people with allergies are dealing with tree pollen.
"Interestingly enough the trees that flower like the pear trees that you see that are all white right now, those are actually not big allergens. What gets in the air are the trees that you don't really see a lot of flowers on," said Shields.
He says it's because they're wind-pollinated and when the wind blows it disperses the pollen in the air.
"Like if they're mowing the yard and they're allergic to grass we recommend that they wear a face covering and eye protection cause that actually keeps the pollen out of your nose and your mouth and your eyes. So you're less likely to have symptoms if not exposed," said Shields.
He says they didn't see as many patients during the pandemic, and those suffering from allergies would take over-the-counter medication to cope.
James says she's going to keep wearing her masks to keep pollen out of her nose.
"I'm over at the prescription counter at Walgreens like, 'please give me something to stop this stabbing pain behind my eye,'" said James.
Shields says the best thing you can do is limit your exposure.
"That means keeping your windows shut in the house and in a car. If you had been outside during the day, when you're finished take a shower and wash your hair before you go to bed to get all that pollen off of you," said Shields.