American Family Care (WWSB) -- If you feel like your allergies have acted up earlier than usual this year - or you're experiencing them for the first time - you're probably not alone.
"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," said Dr. Jeremy Allen, a board certified family practitioner at American Family Care, the nation's leading provider of urgent care and accessible primary care.
Due to a particularly warm winter that's caused flowers, trees and plants to bloom earlier, pollen has developed faster and thicker in the spring-like temperatures. But that's only part of the problem.
AFC, who has had an increase in clinical visits this year, say that everyday habits have also played a factor.
As such, doctors at the Clinic have identified the Top 5 Habits That Make Your Allergies Worse, as well as aggravate symptoms you've never had before.
1. Drinking Alcohol: An extra glass of wine at dinner could irritate existing allergies. A Danish study found every additional alcoholic drink in a week, increased the risk of seasonal allergies by 3 percent. The researchers suspect the bacteria and yeast in the alcohol produce histamines and cause a stuffy nose or itchy eyes.
2. Making your bed: Dust mites love to put down roots in bedding and mattresses. AFC physicians say at night, while you sleep, moisture from body sweat helps keep the little critters alive. When you make your bed in the morning, you are tucking in those pesky bugs, so they cannot escape. Airing out your sheets can make it harder for allergens and bedbugs to stay alive.
3. Wearing contact lenses: In some cases, AFC doctors say lenses can trap pollen against the surface of the eye. This can be an even bigger issue for anyone who is already suffering from red, itchy eye triggered by seasonal allergies.
4. Eating certain fruits and vegetables: We are raised to think eating our veggies is good for us. Researchers with the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America found proteins in certain foods can cause ragweed sufferers to end up with an itchy mouth. The experts say bananas, melons as well as tomatoes can cause a cross-reaction.
5. Using the dishwasher: A Swedish study published in the journal Pediatrics found children do not develop as many allergies if they eat off a hand washed dishes rather than plates or bowls cleaned in a dishwasher. Researchers found automated dishwashers kill so much bacteria children cannot build up an immunity.
“It is always best to get checked out by a physician so you know exactly what kind of condition you are dealing with," says Allen, "because a battle with seasonal allergies can last as long as there is exposure." He explains that those with allergies are more likely to suffer from sinus problems as their nasal and sinus tissues swell when they breathe dust pollen or smoke.
American Family Care, open seven days a week from 8am-8pm, is located at 2901 S. Tamiami Trail Sarasota, FL , 34236. They can be reached at 941.364.4379.