Allergy season starts, tree pollen ‘very high’ in area

Spring is here and so is allergy season.

A cold winter and some late freezes can be blamed for the high amount of tree pollen in the air all at once this week. It is causing a flare-up in symptoms this week for seasonal allergy sufferers.

The long wait for warmer weather delayed some trees that typically bloom earlier in the year. Now the amount of tree pollen in the air is climbing as many tree types all bloom at once, said Storm Center 7 Chief Meteorologist Eric Elwell.

“The stuff that normally blooms this time of year is blooming, but the stuff that was supposed to bloom two or three weeks ago is also just blooming. So you’re adding all of that pollen together and that soars the numbers,” Elwell said.

Local tree pollen counts were categorized as "very high" as of Friday by the Regional Air Pollution Control Agency, which serves Clark, Darke, Greene, Miami, Montgomery and Preble counties.

The Friday pollen count rose to 2241 per cubic meters. The pollen count overall was above 1500 only five times last year and the highest spike in tree pollen for 2017 was about 1800 per cubic meters.

Southwest Ohio Air Quality Agency, which serves Butler, Clermont, Clinton, Hamilton and Warren counties, measured the pollen count at 1,472 as of Friday.

The higher-than-normal temperatures and breezy conditions for the middle of the last week also helped to push the pollen into the atmosphere.

“Until we get a widespread rain to wash that all out, pollen levels are going to remain pretty consistently high,” Elwell said.

Allergies can be confused as a cold with symptoms like a runny nose or scratchy, but the main difference in symptoms is that with pollen allergies there’s no fever, said Dr. Joseph Allen, family practice physician in Vandalia with Premier Health Physicians.

“There’s some folks that just can’t function this time of year and then there’s some other folks that yeah they go through their daily life and it’s just more of an annoyance,” he said.

Over the counter medications can bring some relief and Allen said if people know they’re going to have spring allergies, they should start treatment early.

Allergy sufferers can also minimize symptoms by taking showers before they go to bed, said Allen.

For patients with severe symptoms, he said physicians can prescribe steroids.

For some allergy sufferers, relief should start to come mid-June.

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After early June, the amount of tree pollen in the air usually tapers off. However, grass pollen can be a problem from late May to mid-July and ragweed blooms from August to the beginning of October, with peak season in September.

Brian Huxtable, air pollution control specialist with RAPCA, said this is the highest tree pollen count so far this year, but today’s levels were not entirely unusual for this time of year.

“It’s high but it’s not historically high,” Huxtable said.

People who have pollen allergies are advised to avoid lawn work and to shower to wash off pollen if you have to work in the yard. Huxtable said RAPCA also encourages residents to talk to their doctors about treatment options in preparation for the season.

“Treatment and avoidance are the big thing,” he said.


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