By Mimi Johnson, NCL’s Director, Health Policy It seems this year, there’s little I can do to beat the tree pollen. Allergy sufferers everywhere are plagued with itchy eyes, stuffy noses, and tight chests. According to experts, the wet season and early, warm spring led to a breeding ground for allergens. Aside from keeping windows closed, keeping the house – and myself – clean of pollen, and trying to avoid the outdoors in the early hours of the day, I’ve also tried a variety of treatments. With allergies, symptoms – and pollen – vary throughout the season. While it’s important to follow a treatment plan and take medications as prescribed, it can be a real challenge during allergy season as symptoms, treatments, weather, and pollen counts are often changing. One thing I’ve learned this allergy season, however, is the value of keeping a diary of my trials and tribulations. I’ve documented – on a somewhat daily basis – how my medication regimen and the weather are making me feel. This “diary” proved to be very useful when meeting with my doctor at a recent appointment. Though there is little to do but ride it out and try to minimize the symptoms with a variety of over-the-counter and prescription products, next winter I can work together with my doctor to develop a regimen … well in advance of the first trace of pollen! Whether you’re sick with allergies or the flu, or you’re caring for someone else who is feeling under the weather, you can help improve your immediate and longer-term care by keeping track of the symptoms, reactions to medication, and your thoughts along the way.