Allergy sufferers feel double-hit as grass pollen and tree pollen overlap


By Mary Kilpatrick - Advance Ohio Media, Cleveland (TNS)



CLEVELAND, Ohio — Allergy season typically follows a calendar: tree pollen in the early spring, grass pollen in the early summer, with a little bit of overlap, then ragweed in the fall.

But now Cleveland allergy sufferers are getting a double whammy due to late spring cold temperatures and snow. Tree pollen season and grass pollen season are now on top of each other.

That means for people who are allergic to both pollens, it’s double the misery: itchy eyes, nose and throat, sneezing and congestion. The Cleveland Clinic says patients are experiencing worse symptoms than normal.

“There’s more of a double hit this year,” said Dr. David Lang, chair of the Cleveland Clinic’s allergy and immunology at Cleveland Clinic said in a phone interview.

The double dose of pollen began in mid-May, as soon as the weather warmed up. It’s hard to say when it will end, but it’s likely within the next couple of weeks. It depends on the amount of rain the area receives, which washes pollen from the air.

But for some, the misery may not end. People who are exposed early in the allergy season to high level of pollen can experience similarly bad symptoms later in the season, even though pollen levels are lower. It’s called priming.

“It doesn’t take as much exposure to provoke more severe symptoms, so even though the counts are lower, people are still having prominent symptoms,” Lang said.

Lang recommends closing your windows and using air conditioning to reduce symptoms. But that doesn’t mean you can’t go outside.

“People want to go outdoors and I understand that. I don’t want them to hibernate,” Lang said.

Just make sure to take regular over-the-counter allergy medication, intranasal steroids like Rhinocort, Nasacort or Flonase or antihistamines like Allegra, Zyrtec or Claritin.

Face masks used to protect against coronavirus could help filter out pollen and provide some relief. Pollen particles are much larger than viruses.

“Because the pollen particles are fairly large, many masks will capture some percentage of pollens. A surgical mask will do a better job than some of the cloth masks,” Lang said.

If the drugstore meds aren’t cutting it for you and your allergies are interfering with your life, it’s time to go see an allergist.

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By Mary Kilpatrick

Advance Ohio Media, Cleveland (TNS)

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