Off-the-charts pollen spreads allergy misery

March 21, 2012 By JOE EDWARDS , Associated Press
Pollen covers a car parked outside the State Capitol Tuesday, March 20, 2012, in Atlanta. A warm winter is sending pollen counts soaring to record levels in Georgia. Officials say a record high pollen count of 9,369 particles of pollen per cubic meter was measured in metro Atlanta on Tuesday. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

(AP) -- Allergy season has come early and hit with a wheezing vengeance in parts of the South and Midwest this year, thanks largely to an unusually warm winter. Abundant pollen is causing watery eyes, sniffles and sneezing.

Doctors say the spring misery stretches from to Ohio and from Georgia to Texas, where a has exacerbated the problem. and allergists blame the unseasonably , and few cold snaps, for causing to bloom weeks earlier than normal and release the allergy-causing .

In some areas, allergists say counts this week are as high as they've ever recorded. A clinic at Vanderbilt University in Nashville recorded 11,000 of pollen per cubic meter Tuesday, the worst in the 12 years they've tracked the number. The Atlanta Allergy & Asthma Clinic says this week's pollen counts have beaten a high mark recorded there in April 1999. Their count for Tuesday was almost 9,400. Fifteen-hundred is considered very high.

The medical director of the Vanderbilt Asthma, Sinus and Allergy Program says he's been seeing more patients - even while feeling puny himself.

"I'm kind of sniffly today," Dr. David Hagaman said Tuesday.

The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America says more than 40 million Americans have nasal allergies, popularly called hay fever. In severe cases, sufferers have difficulty breathing that can send them to the emergency room.

Stephanie Baxter was walloped when she returned to Gallatin, Tenn., from a vacation in Florida last week.

"We hit Tennessee and they started," she said. "I have every possible symptom you can have. I'm trying to keep my energy because I have a 3-month-old and a 3-year-old. There's no time for rest."

For three years, the foundation has ranked Knoxville, Tenn., as the worst city in the country for allergies - based on pollen counts, sales of allergy medications and the presence allergy specialists. The city has been up to 20 degrees warmer than normal the past few weeks. Spring arrived prematurely - along with sales of nose spray.

"It's blooming so early," said Sam Roberts, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Morristown, Tenn. "Grass mowing has started early this year and stirred things up."

Ranee Randby, community relations director for the Knox County Health Department, said Knoxville's scenic location in the Tennessee valley contributes to the problem.

"We're surrounded by mountains and whatever gets in here stays in here. It's like a bowl," she said. "It's a beautiful, green part of the country but pollen comes with that."

In San Antonio, Texas, patients with allergies have increased in the past few weeks at Southwest General Hospital. Daniel St. Armand, the emergency room director, doesn't have to leave the hospital to find someone suffering.

"I have a friend who goes through this yearly and it affects his whole system," he said. "He constantly has a runny nose and itchy skin and eyes. He's just not himself."

In Atlanta, Andre Osborne returned home from a long weekend to find his black Infiniti sedan caked in yellow pollen.

"I feel terrible," he said. "I know it's not as bad as it can be. But the sneezing, the uncontrollable coughing, it's starting to kick in."

A couple miles away, business was up at Cactus Car Wash as drivers brought in their pollen-covered cars. Yellow water streamed into drains in its parking lot.

"It's very unusual this early on," said manager Jim James. "It's getting cars a lot dirtier, which is happier for us."

Explore further: Chicago's reputation as one of 'worst place to live with spring allergies' just got worse

shares

Related Stories

Chicago's reputation as one of 'worst place to live with spring allergies' just got worse

April 13, 2011
Budding trees and greening grass may bring a sigh of relief to some Chicagoans, but for 40 million other Americans the signs of spring leave them gasping for breath.

Get ready for spring - hay fever worse in spring than summer

December 21, 2011
Hay fever (runny nose, sneezing, itchy eyes) is caused by an allergy to pollen, and most commonly to grass pollen. These tiny grains bring misery to sufferers through spring and summer and pollen levels are often included ...

The nose knows: Allergy season here with vengeance

May 13, 2011
(AP) -- There may be a whiff of truth to claims by allergy sufferers who sniffle that this season is, well, a bigger headache than years past.

Tips for managing your child's allergies

March 19, 2012
(Medical Xpress) -- Allergy season can be a difficult time of year for many children and their parents.  With spring in the air, pollen is close behind.

Recommended for you

Targeting 'broken' metabolism in immune cells reduces inflammatory disease

July 12, 2017
The team, led by researchers at Imperial College London, Queen Mary University of London and Ergon Pharmaceuticals, believes the approach could offer new hope in the treatment of inflammatory conditions like arthritis, autoimmune ...

A perturbed skin microbiome can be 'contagious' and promote inflammation, study finds

June 29, 2017
Even in healthy individuals, the skin plays host to a menagerie of bacteria, fungi and viruses. Growing scientific evidence suggests that this lively community, collectively known as the skin microbiome, serves an important ...

Inflammatory bowel disease: Scientists zoom in on genetic culprits

June 28, 2017
Scientists have closed in on specific genes responsible for Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) from a list of over 600 genes that were suspects for the disease. The team from the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute and their collaborators ...

Trials show unique stem cells a potential asthma treatment

June 28, 2017
A study led by scientists at Monash University has shown that a new therapy developed through stem cell technology holds promise as a treatment for chronic asthma.

Researchers find piece in inflammatory disease puzzle

May 23, 2017
Inflammation is the process by which the body responds to injury or infection but when this process becomes out of control it can cause disease. Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute (BDI) researchers, in collaboration with ...

Researchers reveal potential target for the treatment of skin inflammation in eczema and psoriasis

May 22, 2017
Superficially, psoriasis and atopic dermatitis may appear similar but their commonalities are only skin deep. Atopic dermatitis, also known as eczema, is primarily driven by an allergic reaction, while psoriasis is considered ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.