OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – OU Health Officials are calling this one of the worst allergy seasons yet. 

Doctors at OU Health are seeing an increase in patients struggling with allergies. They blame a higher pollen count, rapid change in weather and the decrease in mask wearing. 

“It seems like almost every year, though, things get worse and worse in Oklahoma. It’s definitely an issue and something that we’re seeing a lot of,” said Dr. Edward El Rassi, assistance professor in the Department of Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery at OU Health. 

Doctor Edward El Rassi at OU Health says the rapid change in weather is having a lot to do with patients suffering, and the pollen count in Oklahoma is through the roof, causing more severe allergy symptoms for patients.  

“I think there’s been kind of a rapid change in the weather over the past, seems like maybe month or two, and so that can certainly cause it as opposed to a more gradual progression,” said El Rassi.  

Over the last couple of years, masks have been prominent, but now they are being used less and patients are noticing more allergies. 

“Now that mask use is becoming less frequent, patients are noticing a little bit more…patients are kind of getting re-exposures, so to speak,” said El Rassi.  

El Rassi says some patients believe their problem is allergies, but in reality, they’re actually living with a chronic inflammatory condition of the sinuses.  

“It’s almost as if you’re dealing with a sinus infection every day of your life. It has very similar symptoms…and those patients do have additional treatment options, both medical and surgical. I’ve seen patients who’ve been treating allergies for decades and it’s a lot more than that” said El Rassi.  

There are several options if you’re dealing with allergies. Dr. El Rassi says you can use a nasal neti pot as needed, an internasal steroid spray which is a day-to-day treatment, or you can take an oral antihistamine like Allegra or Zyrtec.  

“For some individuals, taking a pill is a little bit easier than the nasal steroid spray. We do know that doing both isn’t necessarily additionally effective compared to just using a nasal steroid spray. So, a nasal spray usually gives you kind of the most, at best, efficacy if you’re going to choose one over the other,” said El Rassi.  

Allergy tests, shots and drops are also an option if you’re dealing with allergies; just consult with your doctor before taking action.

There are other prescription based treatments as well. OU Health officials suggest talking with your primary care doctor, an allergist, or an ear, nose and throat doctor if struggling with allergies.