Experts: Worst allergy season on record

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SHERMAN, TX - Allergy season is in full bloom and the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology reports it may be the worst in decades. Victoria Maranan spoke with some experts to find out why.

Biology professor, Dr. George Diggs said pollen reached record highs in southern United States because of climate change, triggering allergic reactions in at least 40-million Americans.
Spring is in the air in Texoma and so is pollen.

"it's been bad."

"it's been tough, I had a lot of headaches."

Austin College Biology professor, Dr. George Diggs said this allergy season is worse than last year because trees and grasses are releasing pollen at the same time.

"It's kind of a double whammy. The warm winter and then the very moist spring, everything's coming together to make lots of pollen and lots of spores in the air and people whose immune systems are susceptible to these suffer," he said.

He said the winter allows plants to lie dormant in producing pollen, but that wasn't the case this year.

"Plants are doing things this year that they don't normally do, they're starting to flower much earlier. It's a strange year," Dr. Diggs added.

The pecan tree blossomed several weeks early producing catkins that contains thousands of pollen particles. But Dr. Diggs said there's more in the air than grass and tree pollen.

"In addition to the warmth, there has been rain and so that complicates things too. Because not only is there a lot of plant growth and pollen but also fungi," he said.

"We're seeing more and more patients now because there's pollen the air."

Allergist, Dr. Vern Laing saw a surge of people coming into his office because of allergies and said most of them spend a lot of time outside.

"They're gonna be much worse riding a motorcycle. I had one in yesterday, they were out cycling over the weekend, there wouldn't be a more perfect set up. You get on a motorcycle, put your nose right out here in contact with the wind, first thing it hits is your nose."

He said while pollen levels are higher this year, it doesn't mean it's the worst allergy season.

"High pollen counts in it of itself do not establish a bad year. First off, about 75 percent of the population will be having no trouble because they're not allergic," he said.

Dr. Laing said some patients came in mistaking a sinus infection to an allergic reaction and he said it's important to know the difference.

"They feel like they have the flu or something, they tend to be a sicker lot than the allergy patient and another hallmark is itching. Itching is a hallmark of allergy, people with infection and irritation rarely complain of itching," he said.

Dr. Diggs said there's no way to tell if pollen will be as high next year as they were this spring.

"Allergy season didn't start til much later last year, so this spring is much worse. What will it be like next spring? I don't know," he said.

In the meantime, Dr. Laing said it's best to take care of your allergies before it gets worse.

"I hate to see the most is for someone to neglect their nasal, or what we call 'upper respiratory allergy' shoulders up and develop asthma."

Dr. Laing also said over-the-counter medications and reducing time outdoors can help ease spring allergy symptoms. But if that doesn't work, it's time to see an allergist.

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