Earlier this month I opened my front door and thought, Oh no! It’s here again! My porch and car were covered with yellow powder. A misty rain had turned it into wet paste on my windshield, and the wipers only smeared it.
So what is that yellow stuff? Oak and pine bloom around the same time, and both generously distribute their yellow pollen. If pine is prominent where you are, there’s a good chance the culprit is pine. But if oak trees dot your landscape, it’s probably the oaks sneezing out their pollen.
If it makes your sinuses drain and your eyes tear, I’d venture to guess the oaks or other plants that pollinate simultaneously with pine are to blame. Pine allergy is uncommon because its pollen is heavy, causing it to fall to the ground rapidly. However, some species of pine do have pollen grains that are lighter and linger in the air longer, so pine can’t be ruled out completely. Oak pollen is a fine powder that floats much longer, mixing with the air we breathe. During my years as an allergy nurse, I tested many people for allergies. Though we have lots of pine trees here, we almost never saw a patient who tested positive to pine pollen in our Arkansas/Oklahoma border area.
Dr. Stephen Klemawesch, owner and founder of Allergy Associates in St. Petersburg, FL, summarized it well in his February 12, 2012 post. Click the link to read his summary. It’s only two sentences, and very nicely done.
For much of the U.S., the pines and oaks have released their pollen now and it’s gone with the wind, leaving behind only cones and tendrils to scatter our yards. I can relate to these cute photographs my friend Dianna took of her puppy Molly after a romp in the yard. Last week I took the trash out on a windy day, and when I came back in I noticed in the mirror that I had a couple of oak tendrils on top of my head. I tossed them outside and about 30 minutes later I was subconsciously scratching the spot where they landed on my hair. I finally figured out that pieces of the tendrils, and maybe the last remnants of pollen still clinging, had made their way through my hair and onto my scalp. Molly, I understand!
I have a three year old son who has recently showed signs of becoming sensitized, to possibly everything. He has been diagnosed with ATOPIC ECZEMA. I have been researching all over, I understand there is some questions between dermatologists and allergists on what the cause for such a severe condition could be. Me his mother, being the genetic donor of such a horrible affliction, knows the condition first hand.
I strongly believe this condition has several parts to it. One being an immune issue, the second being allergies, and the third part extremely dry and sensitive skin. So with a sliver of knowledge, I am taking aim to improve his condition without the use of the enormous amount of drugs dermatologists have prescribed him at 3 years old. We are working closely with a wonderful allergist who has the patience and knowledge to deal with my family. My question is we now live in Albuquerque, NM. He has been through two RAST tests (blood tests to check for IgE levels), and a patch test which had no results for us to read. He, according to the RAST test has low and moderate levels to most allergic foods (wheat, dairy, corn, soy, eggs, and peanuts), he also shows a low moderate to dogs and elm.
At this point I have not noticed hay fever symptoms for our dogs we have, but with this new information from the blood tests, the dogs and his reactions to them are under my careful observation. He is on a very restricted diet and his skin is clearing with out the prescribed drugs. We will begin introducing one food at a time very soon to see the effects.
So sorry about the long preface to my question. We live in Abq., and have an opportunity to move to Fort Smith Arkansas. With the knowledge he has the possibility for his allergies to get worse (sensitized), which climate would be more likely to exascerbate his condition, the dry and very pollen filled Abq., or Arkansas a humid climate I know very little about? — Kendra, Albuquerque, NM
I have not noticed anyone talk about moving to any coastal/ beach areas? For the past 4 years my wife and I vacation to florida and east coast (myrtle beach,south carolina). All allergy symptoms are pretty much gone when we’re there. My nose clears up, I can see better, less mental fog, etc. As soon as we get back to NW Arkansas, all symtoms come back! We are planning on moving to SC coast ASAP. — Rob
[Note from AllergyNurse: Actually, several have mentioned their experiences in coastal/beach areas. But your comment made me realize that I need to add that under ‘Locations’ in the right menu, so people can find it more easily. I’ve added it now, and linked items which refer to these areas. Thanks for pointing out this need!]
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: Break out of the mold
“A particularly bad year for mold spores and an accelerating ragweed season are giving them itchy eyes and runny noses.” [Pittsburgh Tribune-Review]
Ontario, Canada Achoo! Ragweed arrives early
“Ragweed has made her a prisoner in her own house…. ‘It was July 30 when it started and it hasn’t stopped.'” [Hamilton Spectator, Ontario Canada]
Washington, DC Ragweed arrives early in district
“If you’re an allergy sufferer who is feeling a little off this morning in that allergy-related kind of way, you can thank ragweed season for arriving two weeks early.” [DCist, Washington, DC]
Little Rock, Arkansas Heat, humidity fueling hay fever
“Doctors say an increase in pollen, ragweed, and mold is creating more cases of hay fever.” [Today’s THV, Little Rock, Arkansas]
According to an Associated Press report on ksl.com – Utah’s Online Source for Local News & Information, “this spring may be a bad one for allergy sufferers.” The March 6, 2006, report says that high Elm pollen counts are already being experienced in Utah, and that high Cedar pollen counts are expected.
We are experiencing high Elm pollen counts here in Arkansas as well. But we’re just sliding past our peak Cedar pollen season, which usually begins in December or January and lasts until February or early March in western Arkansas.
According to the ksl.com report, cedar season won’t begin in the Salt Lake City area for a couple more weeks, and will last till the end of April.
The report also discusses grasses and weeds in the Salt Lake City area and what to expect as far as pollen counts and seasons. Read the entire report by clicking here.
“There’s no such thing as an ‘asthma-free’ city,” says Mike Tringale, Director of Communications at Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. This is from a February 8, 2006, press release announcing the 2006 U.S. Asthma Capitals.
Topping the list are Scranton, PA, Richmond, VA, and Philadelphia, PA. Only one southern city, 4th ranked Atlanta, GA, made the top ten this year. You can check out the entire list of 100 Worst Cities for Asthma in 2006 from the AAFA website.
This is the third year AAFA has ranked cities for asthma. During the first two years, southern cities took the top three spots with the exception of third-ranked St. Louis, MO in 2005. St. Louis has consistently scored in the top ten all three years. In 2004, KY and TN topped the list, and last year (2005) Little Rock, AR (directly east of my western AR location) and St. Louis, MO (directly to my north) took the #2 and #3 spots. This year brought some surprises, as the North Central and North Eastern seaboard areas seem to dominate. See the 2004, 2005, and 2006 lists to see how your area fares.
Feel free to share any local reports or commentary from your area in the comments. Copyrighted material should be in the form of links with your comments about the link. Please do not post copyrighted material, with the exception of a brief sentence to introduce the link.
A special climate message from ‘Your Allergy Nurse’
Don’t forget to consider health issues other than allergies when evaluating a climate change. Here in Arkansas many of us dread the hot humid days of summer. The air is heavy and it is hard to breathe. Mold counts soar, grass pollen thrives, and it becomes an allergy sufferer’s nightmare. During the winter we have short periods of dry humidity, but snow and ice keep things moist for the most part.
However, this is proving to be an extremely dry winter for us. Wild fires and burn bans prevail in our region. We frequently hear the words “record-breaking lows” to describe the humidity and rainfall levels. I’m getting a taste of what winter feels like in a more arid climate.
We didnt move here to find relief (arkansas), cause we never had any allergies.We moved from california 8 years ago and have been sick with allergies ever since. It is worse in spring and worse in fall. The rest of the time we are indoors but have develope dust and heater allergies. I love the beauty here,but we are thinking of moving to the dessert for relief. We never knew sick people in southern california, but here in NWarkansas, it seems everyone of all ages are sick,makes me nervous! — TJ, Arkansas
I grew up on the southwest end of Nebraska where I suffered from seasonal allergies. This is a dry high altitude area. The we relocated to southest Nebraska which is a low altiute wet area where my allergies became worse and I had to take full time meds and use a inhaler. We lived in this area 10 years and there was much more humidity here. Then we relocated to Northwest Arkansas and I have been sick ever since we got here and just keep getting sicker. The mold counts are always high and there is A LOT of pollen and chicken dander. We are planning to move back to Nebraska in the spring and I think I may feel some better there. — Amy, Northwest Arkansas
How does climate affect allergies? Read and share experiences.