Worst allergy and flu season - which do you have?

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We're facing one of the worst allergy, and flu seasons yet here in Texoma. And it can be hard to tell which one you've got when you're feeling under the weather. One local allergist says while both are bad, they are identified and treated very differently.

Tony Stephens is a long time allergy sufferer, and up until a few years ago he was confined by his chronic symptoms.

"I was miserable, for several years. I kept thinking it would go away, something that would come and go. But then I started realizing every year at the same time I was having the same problems,” said Stephens

And this fall could prove to be particularly bad for people like Stephens, who have allergies. Experts say this could be one of the worst seasons for allergies yet thanks to the high levels of ragweed in the air.

The North Texas area has now been bumped up from last year’s ranking as the 27th worst place to live for allergy sufferers to the 13th. Dr. Vern Laing says the warm weather mixed with a longer growing season has made ragweed the main culprit.

"The allergy season has been pretty intense compared to previous seasons,” said Laing, an allergist and immunologist in Sherman.

But with the regular flu and H1N1 circulating at the same time, it can sometimes be hard to tell if you have allergies or the flu.

"People say they feel like they have the flu when they have allergy, but most of the time they've forgotten what having the flu's about. You can't go, you can't get out of bed, you're virtually incapacitated,” said Laing.

Dr. Laing says there are similar symptoms, such as coughing, sneezing and runny nose, but the flu can also bring fever, muscle pain and intestinal problems.

And all of these symptoms tipped off Stephens that he wasn't suffering from pollen and ragweed.

"I knew I had the flu I could tell because I ached and I never had that with allergies it was mainly just the sinus problems,” said Stephens.

And Dr. Laing says if you do suffer from allergies, first try and avoid what you're allergic to. If that's not an option, try over the county anti-histamines and nasal spray. And go see a specialist if the chronic symptoms don't let up.

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