Sneezing into Spring

Sneezing, sniffling, and water eyes—allergy season is here.

Many experts say that 2015’s allergy season is the worst one in recent history. The long winter with bitter cold temperatures delayed some trees from pollinating. When trees pollinate, they release tiny grains in the air called pollen. Since not all trees pollinate at the same time, the delays are resulting in a large amount of trees releasing pollen at once. It’s being called the “pollen tsunami.” Pollen is the biggest cause of spring allergies.

“You may even see clouds of pollen being released over the next several weeks, where there will be almost a green mist,” Dr. Leonard Bielory, an allergy specialist at the Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick, N.J., told CBS New York.

Oak and birch trees — the “big bad” pollen makers — are coming out at the same time as the seasonal ones like poplar, alder and ash. And soon the grass pollens arrive.

About one in five Americans suffer from some kind of allergy, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. Seasonal allergies are the most common. While not as severe as food and insect allergies, they can interfere with daily life.

Experts say those living in the New England region — which saw its last winter storm in March — might want to pay close attention to pollen levels. But, any region that’s been slow to warm up this year may be affected.

Tips to Fight Allergies

• Wash fruits thoroughly. When possible, cook fruits and/or avoid eating fruit peels. “Symptoms of pollen-food allergy syndrome typically occur when you eat fruit—including its peel—in its raw form, says Anju Peters, MD, associate professor of medicine in allergy and immunology at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago. “So by peeling or cooking fruit, you can lessen or completely avoid any reaction.”

Some trees are especially high in pollen, like this Norway Maple tree.

• Use as few hair products as possible or wash hair every day. “Hair gels and pastes cause the hair to become a pollen magnet,” says Clifford Bassett, MD, medical director of Allergy and Asthma Care of New York and associate professor of clinical medicine at New York University.

• If possible, bathe at night. Going to bed swaddled in the pollen and mold that your clothing, skin, and hair picked up throughout the day may be the problem, Dr. Bassett says. If you can’t bathe at night, make sure you at least wash your face at night, giving your eye area some special attention.

• Stay inside during and directly after thunderstorms and keep house windows shut. While gentle drizzles can decrease pollen counts, thunderstorms actually stir up pollen.

• Bath your dog regularly and avoid allowing your pet to lay in bed with you. Just because you aren’t allergic to your pet doesn’t mean he they won’t make you sneeze and sniffle. After being outside, your dog can bring pollen, mold, and other allergens into your home.

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