Allergy season is hitting the region and expected to last longer

Tree pollen counts high, according to RAPCA.



A mild, short winter means longer pollen seasons, allergy experts say, and area health providers recommend allergy sufferers begin their regimens early.

“People might already be experiencing symptoms,” said Dr. Elizabeth Barrett, a physician at Premier Health Primary Care Beavercreek. “For people who typically have heavy allergies, especially in the spring, starting their normal regimen now is a decent idea in order to get ahead of their symptoms.”

Tree pollen typically kicks of the springtime allergy season. The region is already experiencing high levels of tree pollen, according to the Regional Air Pollution Control Agency. Some of the types of trees with the highest pollen counts in the area include maple, mulberry, and willow trees.

“No grass, no ragweed allergens right now. It’s all tree pollen,” Barrett said about current pollen forecasts. “...People who have allergies to tree pollen are probably already starting to experience symptoms.”

Allergy seasons are also expected to last longer. Research shows pollen seasons now start 20 days earlier, and last 10 days longer, compared to 30 years ago, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. Researchers have also found increased carbon dioxide gas in the air is linked to greater pollen production by trees, the foundation said.



Up until last year, the region has ranked in the top half of the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America’s yearly Allergy Capitals report, which covers the top 100 U.S. cities with the worst seasonal allergies. In 2023, it was ranked 88th―down from 13th place in 2022―and this year, Dayton is ranked as the 66th worst city in the U.S. for allergies.

“There’s three options for treating allergies,” Barrett said. Those include avoiding allergens in the first place, alleviating symptoms, or have a doctor administer allergy shots or allergy-specific treatments.

To avoid allergens, Barrett recommended planning ahead by checking pollen forecasts, just like checking weather forecasts.

“If you are already outside, shower or change clothes after you spend a lot of time outside,” she said. “That way, you’re not just carrying it with you everywhere you go.”

For alleviating symptoms, most of the over-the-counter drugs fall into three different categories, including antihistamines, decongestants and corticoid steroids, said pharmacist Dr. Hannah Rummer, CVS Health district leader.

“Sometimes you may need to try a couple of different types of medicine until you learn what works best for you,” Rummer said.

Histamine is a chemical the immune system releases, and when it overreacts to an allergen like pollen or pet dander, it can cause symptoms like coughing, sneezing and watery eyes, Rummer said. Antihistamines can be used alleviate those symptoms by blocking the effects of histamine.

Decongestants can be used to relieve nasal and sinus congestion, Rummer said, and corticoid steroids can help reduce allergy inflammation.

“A lot of times people wait to begin a medication until they’re really suffering from the allergy symptoms, but with allergy medications, specifically antihistamines and the nasal corticoid steroids, it actually works best to start them now,” Rummer said. Allergy sufferers can begin those regimens two to four weeks before symptoms begin, she said.

At-home solutions for allergies can include rinsing sinuses. Nasal irrigation devices, such as neti pots, can flush out clogged nasal passages with distilled, sterile or previously boiled water and help people breathe easier, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

For tough allergies, people may need to seek out additional help from a health provider in order to get an allergy shot or other solution.

Those with comorbidities should also consult with their health providers.

“If you have allergies plus asthma, or allergies plus a respiratory illness, you must follow it closely with your provider because that would be a high-risk group of people,” Barrett said.

When allergy season hits bad, then asthma can flare up, causing someone to experience shortness of breath.

“They’re having times when they can’t breathe well, and now we’re talking more than just these symptoms are bothersome or interrupting my day. We’re talking these could potentially be life-threatening,” Barrett said.

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