Allergies more intense this spring, forecasters say

May 16, 2011, 10:17 by R.E. Christian

Seasonal allergies are particularly bad this spring because heavy rain and snow resulted in higher pollen counts, U.S. weather forecasters say. Pollen Map shows tree pollen levels range from moderate to very high over the majority of the contiguous United States. Tree pollen is abundant in early to mid-spring, and the high precipitation has led to higher pollen concentrations nationwide.

Chicago's tree pollen count is 1,500, reaching the threshold that signals a dangerous air quality warning.

"Today's tree pollen count is the highest of the season, and the highest in at least three years," Dr. Joseph Leija, allergist at Loyola University Health System's Gottlieb Memorial Hospital, says in a statement. "Itchy eyes, stuffy noses and fatigue will be common among Chicagoans with sensitive respiratory systems."

Leija warns those with tree pollen allergies to avoid eating apples, celery, peaches, pears, cherries, hazelnuts and plums.

"The proteins in these produce mimic pollen proteins and can create reactions that will worsen symptoms," he cautions.

Elements including a late spring warm-up, rain and barometric pressure change combined to create the dangerously high tree pollen count now, at a time when the tree pollen count would typically be dropping, Leija says.

"Allergy sufferers should stay indoors, keep the windows closed and use their air conditioners, and take their allergy medications," Leija advises.

Source: UPI