Pollen Season Tracking

February 21, 2012 by staff 

Pollen Season Tracking, Some of the same regions of the country that experienced unusually cold temperatures this past winter are now in the middle of one of the worst pollen seasons in several years.
The problem has been particularly bad in the Southeast, where allergy sufferers and clean-car lovers are dealing with a constant yellow blanket of near-record pollen. In normal seasons, a pollen count of 120 is considered high. Last week in Atlanta, the pollen count hit 5,733, the second-highest level on record, according to The Weather Channel. (The city’s record, 6,013, was set April 12, 1999.)

“We’re seeing a lot of patients who are allergic to tree pollen,” says Stanley Fineman, an allergist at the Atlanta Allergy and Asthma Clinic. The number of patients coming in is “much higher than usual,” he says.

The record-cold temperatures in places such as Georgia and Florida delayed the pollination process for oak trees this year, which means the peak pollen season is likely to last until early next month.

That’s not welcome news for Erin Moloney, 23, of Tampa, a life-long allergy sufferer. She says this year is worse than usual. “The symptoms are a little more severe, more noticeable, and there are new symptoms.” Her symptoms include itchy, runny nose and eyes, a lot of sneezing, hives and, for the first time this year, wheezing.

At least 20% of the nation’s population is affected by pollen, and about 5% have a strong enough reaction that they have to see a specialist, says Richard Lockey, director of the Division of Allergy and Immunology at the University of South Florida.

“This is the season when you see people staying home from work for a week because their eyes are so swollen,” Lockey says. “People say, ‘Aw it can’t be that bad.’ Well, it’s like having a bad cold for two, three months. The quality of life for those people, particularly the severely affected, is very, very poor at this point.”

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