ATLANTA — ATLANTA – Spring is here, and for many that means admiring the flowers through swollen, bloodshot eyes.

Tis the season for allergies in the south. But while you’re coughing and sneezing, there’s a good chance your neighbor isn’t fazed by high pollen counts.

Why?

You can blame your parents and your environment.

If your mom or dad suffer from seasonal allergies there’s a better than 50-50 chance that you will too.

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You can inherit their seasonal intolerance, but not necessarily their specific allergy. Let’s say they’re both allergic to pollen produced by pine trees. You might react to something completely different.

“You have the allergic gene, but you could be allergic to many different things,” says Dr. Lily Hwang of Atlanta Allergy and Asthma.

Dr. Hwang says the “allergic gene” means you’re predisposed to react to something.  Of course, if that something doesn’t exist where you live, you won’t react.

That’s where environment comes into play.

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You could live in a part of the country with no ragweed. Convinced you don't have allergies, you move to Atlanta where you’re greeted with congestion, coughing, and sneezing.

There are also people who think they have allergies, but they don’t. Particularly bad pollen counts can be an irritant to just about anyone.

“Patients that don’t have an allergy, they still have an irritant reaction,” says Dr. Hwang. “They can get sneezing. They can get congestion.”

You can think you allergic to one thing and it’s really something else.

If you want to know, there are tests that can tell you.

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