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DALLAS The source of misery is everywhere for Jerry Rutledge.

My allergy symptoms have been pretty intense, with my eyes runny, watering, and sneezing at different times of day in different places, he said.

Patients who haven't been in in eight to 10 years are coming back this year, said Dr. Gary Gross, an allergist at Texas Health Dallas who calls this the worst season he's seen in a decade.

About 60 million Americans suffer from allergic rhinitis, the most common seasonal allergy symptom.

Dr. Gross says one treatment many allergists will not recommend this year is the use of antibiotics for an allergy-related sinus infection. New research in the Journal of the American Medical Association shows an antibiotic works about as well as a sugar pill when it comes to congestion.

If you just treat the congestion and the mucous, the body can often clear the infection by itself, and so you don't need the extra antibiotics in your system and in the environment, Dr. Gross said.

About 20 percent of all antibiotic prescriptions written in the United States are for sinus infections.

Experts recommend nasal sprays and saline washes, along with other allergy medications, for three to seven days before trying an antibiotic for congestion.

Allergists say bacterial sinus infections that don't go away in a week can respond to antibiotics.

Jerry Rutledge started taking his meds early, but still suffers. I'm sure they'd be much worse if I wasn't taking the medicines he was prescribing, Rutledge said.

E-mail jstjames@wfaa.com

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