Five ways you're making your allergies worse

- Weather changes brought an earlier-than-usual spring allergy season to Florida this year.   American Family Care urgent clinics have  reported an increase in allergy cases, many involving new patients.

"More and more people come in thinking they have a cold, but in many cases it is an allergy attack, even if they've never had allergies before," offered Dr. Jeremy Allen of AFC.

Some experts attribute the increase in cases to warmer temperatures, windier conditions, and El Nino. Pollen movement began sooner than usual this year and wet grounds provided growth opportunities for pollen-producing trees and plants.

AFC doctors identified five ways patients are making their allergies worse:

DRINKING ALCOHOL
In a study published last year, Danish researchers found seasonal allergy risks increased by three percent for every additional alcoholic drink consumed a week. Some suspect histamines produced by the alcohol’s bacteria and lead to stuffy noses or itchy eyes.

MAKING YOUR BED
According to AFC doctors, moisture from body sweat keeps dust mites and bed bugs alive. Tucking the sheets under the mattress limits their ability to escape. Airing out sheets makes it harder for allergens and bed bugs to survive.

WEARING CONTACT LENSES
AFC Doctors say contact lenses trap pollen and impact already red, itchy eyes.

EATING CERTAIN FRUITS AND VEGETABLES
According to a study performed by the Allergy and Asthma Foundation of America, certain foods contain proteins that might worsen ragweed allergies and led to itchy mouth. Experts say some allergy sufferers may experience cross reactions when eating bananas, melons and tomatoes.

USING THE DISHWASHER
A Swedish study discovered children who ate from hand-washed dishes developed fewer allergies than those who dined from dishes cleaned by dishwasher. Researchers attribute the difference to bacteria; dishwashers remove so much bacteria children cannot build immunity.

Those concerned about symptoms should contact a medical professional.

"It is always best to get checked out by a physician so you know exactly what kind of condition you are dealing with because a battle with seasonal allergies can last as long as there is exposure," added Allen. "People with allergies are more likely to suffer from sinus problems because their nasal and sinus tissues swell as they breathe dust, pollen or smoke. "

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