Not everyone is experiencing the brutal allergy season many have had this year… yet! On Friday, April 27, Capital Public Radio in Sacramento, CA, reported that “this season isn’t nearly as bad as last year.” The report quotes Dr. Bradley Chipps of Capital Allergy and Respiratory Disease Center as saying, “Usually by third or fourth week of April it’s absolutely standing room only in the office, and that’s just not the case this year.”
However, as the title of the item suggests (see below), this report indicates that Sacramento’s slow start has just ramped up. So if you were thinking about heading for Sacramento to find relief, right now may not be the best time!
Last week, just when you were hoping allergy season was about over wherever you live, ABCNews reported that the peak of this allergy season is still around the corner for much of the U.S.
The ABCNews report (linked below) says, “As tree pollen season comes to a close in early May, experts say grass pollen season, which usually begins in late April, is just getting started.”
The Sacramento news echos this with just a slightly later timeline for that area. Capital Radio News reports, “Then there’s another wave when grass pollens bloom, usually peaking in the second or third week of May,” and that, “peak allergy conditions usually persist until around June.” It also warns that, “Central Valley and Los Angeles can also trap pollen and other particulate matter in the air.”
So peep around the corner wherever you live, and brace yourself!
Many attribute our early and intense spring allergy season to our 2011-2012 warm winter. The National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) recently announced that winter 2011-2012 was the fourth warmest winter on record. The seasonal average temperature was 3.9 degrees above the 20th century average. Where does your community rank? See the map below:
This map shows places where the average seasonal temperatures were up to 5 degrees Fahrenheit cooler (darkest blue) or 10 degrees warmer (darkest red) than average, based on observations from 1981-2010.
The most unusually warm temperatures were found in the northern states, especially in the northern Great Plains. In a recent Winter Recap video, Deke Arndt, head of the Climate Monitoring Branch at NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center, explained the reason for the pattern: the jet stream stayed farther north than usual this winter. The whipping, high-altitude winds of the jet stream generally mark the boundary between Arctic air to the north and warmer air to the south.
Adapted from National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Climate Services
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!
Knoxville, TN, topped the list as the most difficult place to live with allergies in the Asthma and Allergy Foundation’s Fall Allergy Roundup in 2011, and it has taken the #1 spot for spring allergies in 2012 as well. Knoxville scored second in AAFA’s spring, 2011, list. In second place for Fall allergies this year is McAllen, TX. You can see the complete list for Spring, 2012, on the AAFA website.
AAFA bases its rankings on 3 factors: Pollen scores, number of allergy medications used per patient, and number of allergy specialists per patient.
The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) released it’s “Fall Allergy Capitals” this month. Topping the list is Knoxville, TN, followed by Dayton, OH, McAllen, TX, Jackson, MS, and Oklahoma City, OK. AAFA does extensive research each year to provide this information on an annual basis.
Each Spring, AAFA also publishes their “Asthma Capitals” list. We did a full writeup of their 2011 Spring Allergy report soon after the report was released.This year, Richmond, VA tops the list. See the AAFA complete report listing the top ten Asthma Capitals linked below.
AAFA says, “There is no place safe from allergies in America, and some cities are more problematic than others.” Our goal here at Allergy Climates is to provide a place where people in the US and around the world can share which areas are least/most problematic for them.
Portland, Oregon ranks #100 on both lists this year for 2011, topping the year for the “better than average” place to live with allergies/asthma. What is your experience with allergy and asthma in Portland?
I have asthma that reacts only to cold and chest colds and very bad mold allergies. I was in the house all winter, sick most of the time, couldn’t even attend family activities, and had a deadly case of cabin fever. I know all cities have their pros and cons, but could their be a drier, warmer location for me in winter? I would like to be able go out every now and then. Another possibility for me is to elongate my spring or fall, so if I could travel to a city during its non-mold period; that would be great. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Right now, I feel like I am active only in July and August. – submitted by Sue, Brooklyn, NY
As an allergy nurse, I used an allergy map to show patients which seasonal allergens are prevalent in various regions in the U.S. I found similar map online that I thought you’d enjoy.
The site has good seasonal climate information which concludes with a smart reminder that “if you spend your summers in the north and travel south for the winter, you may experience symptoms throughout the year if you’re allergic to the allergens found in each place.”
Ragweed may be tickling noses in much of the world, but August to mid-October is Springtime in South Africa. Tree pollen is the culprit for many of the sneezes and sniffles in this subtropical climate.
According to South Africa’s Health24, pollens that cause allergies in South Africa this time of year are Grey Alder, White Elm, Olive, London Plane, Willow and Cottonwood.
You can read more about the weather and climate of South Africa here.
Spring is the season when we throw back the curtain of winter and welcome a bright new start. Not only do we feel the urge to dig and plant outside; we want to dig out from clutter winter has imposed upon us inside too. As we freshen our homes, let’s also remember to clear out indoor allergens that have accumulated over winter.
If anyone should know how to do that, it is Katie Weaver. Katie grew up with allergies. Katie writes:
I am so glad that Americans are thinking of ways to make homes and living environments healthier. After all, when my dad worked to make our home more allergy-friendly, it drastically reduced my allergic symptoms. There are lots of simple solutions to make a healthier home, and should you want or need to hire outside service companies for cleaning or remediation, be sure that they are reputable and doing their job in the healthiest way possible.
Katie’s father used the things he had learned while helping Katie to start his own company that helps others with allergies. In 1991, when I first got into the allergy nursing field, National Allergy was in it’s infancy. But I learned from them. I’d often hold one of their patient education flyers in one hand and the phone receiver in the other as I helped a patient with allergy symptoms. A few years ago, National Allergy became one of our sponsors here at AllergyNursing.com. Today I still go to their website to look up info to help patients. I’ve learned that I can trust them to recommend only the best products and services. With all the scams and price gougers out there, that means a lot to me!