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Do you sneeze and wheeze all spring long? If so, you may be making common mistakes that keep you from preventing spring allergies. The American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology warns of these five common mistakes:

1. Treating symptoms without knowing what you're allergic to

You may think you know what's causing your symptoms, but more than two-thirds of spring allergy sufferers actually have year-round allergies. An allergist, a doctor who is an expert in treating allergies and asthma, can perform tests to pinpoint the cause of your suffering and then find the right treatment to stop it.

2. Spending blindly on over-the-counter medications

There are tons of allergy medications available at the store, some of which can be very effective. But if you're buying new products all the time, spending a bundle and not feeling better, consult with a specialist who can discuss which options might be best for you. Your allergist may suggest nasal spray or allergy shots, also called immunotherapy. Immunotherapy may keep you out of the drug store aisles for good.

3. Waiting too long to take allergy meds

Don't wait until symptoms kick in and you're already feeling bad to take allergy medication. Instead, prepare by taking medication that has worked for you in the past just before the allergy season starts. Pay attention to the weather: When winter weather turns warm, pollens and molds are released into the air. Start treatment prior to the warm up.

4. Not steering clear of your allergy triggers

Finding the right treatment is important, but it's also critical to start avoiding what you are allergic to. For example, if you have a pollen allergy, make sure you keep your windows shut, take a shower when you come inside, and stay indoors during midday when pollen counts are highest. All of these things can make a big difference in how you feel.

5. Eating produce and other foods that might aggravate sniffles and sneezing

If your mouth, lips and throat get itchy and you sniffle and sneeze after eating certain raw or fresh fruits or other foods, you may have "oral allergy syndrome." The condition, which affects about one third of seasonal allergy sufferers, occurs in people who are already allergic to pollen. Their immune system sees a similarity between the proteins of pollen and those of the food, and triggers a reaction. If you are allergic to tree pollen, for example, foods like apples, cherries, pears, apricots, kiwis, oranges, plums, almonds, hazelnuts and walnuts may bother you.

For more information about allergies and asthma, and to find an allergist near you visit www.AllergyandAsthmaRelief.org.

-- ARA

New research: Binge drinking and test-taking

In a controlled experiment, researchers found that binge drinking the night before a test does not impact college students' test performance – although it can affect their moods, attention and reaction times.

The study found that intoxication in the evening did not affect students' next-day scores on academic tests requiring long-term memory, or on tests of recently learned material.

Binge drinking did, however, slow participants' attention/reaction times and worsen mood states – impacts that could affect safety-related behaviors, such as driving. And researchers noted that they only looked at one aspect of academic success; binge drinking could affect other types of academic performance, such as essay-writing and problem-solving requiring higher-order cognitive skills.

-- Boston University School of Public Health

Did You Know?

Depression is more common among women than among men. Biological, life cycle, hormonal and psychosocial factors unique to women may be linked to their higher depression rate. – National Institutes of Health

Health Tip: Treat a black eye

A black eye is caused by bleeding beneath the skin around the eye. To take care of a black eye:

- Using gentle pressure, apply a cold pack or a cloth filled with ice to the area around the eye. Take care not to press on the eye itself. Apply cold as soon as possible after the injury to reduce swelling, and continue using ice or cold packs for 24 to 48 hours.

- Sometimes a black eye indicates a more extensive injury. Be sure there's no blood within the white and colored parts of the eye. Seek medical care immediately if you experience vision problems (double vision, blurring), severe pain, or bleeding in the eye or from the nose.

-- MayoClinic.com

Number to Know: 1.4 million

About 1.4 million newborns were delivered by Cesarean section in 2007, according to new government statistics. The number is a 53 percent increase from 1996. -- National Center for Health Statistics

Children’s Health: Words help babies from birth

New research has found that even before infants begin to speak, words play an important role in their cognition.

In the study, researchers showed 3-month-olds a series of pictures of fish that were paired with either words or beeps. Then infants were shown a picture of a new fish and a dinosaur side-by-side.

Researchers measured how long the infants looked at each picture and found those who heard words provided evidence of categorization (they looked at the fish image longer), while infants who heard tone sequences did not.

-- Northwestern University

Senior Health: Keep exercising, feel younger

Follow these tips from the exercise experts at Life Fitness to stay in top form throughout your golden years.

- Before you get started, assess your physical condition: Do I have any aches or pains? Do I have high blood pressure? Do I have any shortness of breath? Consult with your physician before beginning a new workout routine.

- Concentrate on cardio: Activities like jogging, walking or swimming increase your heart rate for an extended period of time and are recommended to maintain heart health and prevent disease. Ease into a cardio program to protect yourself from injury.

- Strengthen your muscles: Loss of muscle strength happens naturally as you age, and is a leading cause of injuries among older adults. To increase muscle strength, choose exercises that involve working against a force, like your body, weight machines, free weights, resistance bands or a stability ball.

-- Life Fitness, www.lifefitness.com

GateHouse News Service