Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Allergies got you down? Join the crowd

Oak pollen bursting forth from a tree in Clearwater. The wind carries pollen and the pollen that’s bothering you may be coming from a tree you’ve never even seen.

JIM DAMASKE | Times (2006)

Oak pollen bursting forth from a tree in Clearwater. The wind carries pollen and the pollen that’s bothering you may be coming from a tree you’ve never even seen.

If your allergies seem worse than ever this year, you're right. • "Pollen counts are high and many people are complaining of problems,'' said Dr. Richard Lockey, director of the division of allergy and immunology at USF Health. "It's just as bad as ever. And it's bad."

High humidity, stable air temperatures and the lack of heavy rain all contribute to high pollen levels. According to Pollen.com, a national pollen and allergy tracking service, the Tampa Bay area is in the high to very high range now mostly with oak, juniper and nettle pollen.

Oak pollen season usually runs from mid-February to mid-April. "From Valentine's Day to tax day, I tell patients," said Dr. Jack Parrino, an allergy specialist with Tampa Allergy Center.

But this season got an early start — warm winter temperatures caused oak trees to bloom earlier.

"I have my 'weather vane' patients who let me know when pollen is in the air. They started calling in early January with symptoms," said Parrino.

By the way, if you're pulling out your chainsaw now and eyeing that mighty oak in your yard, don't bother. Oak pollen travels on the wind. The pollen that's bothering you may be coming from a tree you've never even seen.

What's your best defense? Prevention, said Lockey. "It's much more difficult to turn off the allergic reaction than it is to prevent it from the beginning."

• Ideally, you should start prescription preventive medications such as steroid nasal spray, two to four weeks before the season starts.

• But it's not entirely too late. Use your prescription or over-the-counter allergy medication every morning during the season. They work more effectively that way. Don't wait for your eyes to stream and your nose to run.

• Avoid exposure. "Don't sit outside under oak trees watching a baseball game" if you know you're allergic, said Parrino.

• Wash away the evidence. "Change clothes when you come inside and rinse off in the shower," Parrino said.

• Got itchy eyes? If you wear contact lenses, you may need to go to your eyeglasses during the peak of the season, as having a foreign object in your eye just increases irritation, Parrino said. If your symptoms are less severe, try eye drops, but use them before you put your contacts in. Look for brands that promise 12-hour relief, like Zaditor.

• Finally, if medications and avoidance don't make life bearable, see a doctor. "It usually takes a combination of medications to get good control," said Parrino.

Plus, you'll get some much-needed sympathy. Commiserates Lockey: "All allergy seasons are the worst ever.''

Contact Irene Maher at imaher@tampabay.com

Coming attractions

After oak pollen season finally ends, Dr. Parrino said there are about 14 more tree varieties that will bloom locally until around mid May.

Then there's grass allergy season, from May to August or September. Grass allergies generally are not as severe, and although it's a long season, heat keeps us indoors longer with the windows closed, lessening exposure.

Then there's the weed season, primarily ragweed, from mid August to about November.

Allergies got you down? Join the crowd 03/14/12 [Last modified: Wednesday, March 21, 2012 2:54pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Pasco tax roll shows increase, but so, too, are budget requests

    Local Government

    NEW PORT RICHEY — Pasco County's tax roll grew by more than 5 percent in 2016, but it's a figure that likely would require local government budget writers to trim proposed spending requests.

    OCTAVIO JONES   |   Times
New construction accounted for $693.5 million in taxable property values being added to the Pasco County tax rolls in 2016, according to preliminary estimates released by Property Appraiser Gary Joiner. Overall, the property tax roll grew more than 5 percent, according to the preliminary numbers.

  2. Tampa Bay Super Bowls: A brief history and some predictions for 2021

    Bucs

    At last, Tampa will host a Super Bowl again. It used to be that the Cigar City would host one a decade, but by the time February 2021 rolls around, it will have been 12 years since the epic showdown between the Steelers and Cardinals. Because it has been awhile, let's revisit those past Super Bowls while also peering …

    Santonio Holmes hauls in the game-winning touchdown in the Steelers' 27-23 Super Bowl XLIII victory over the Cardinals in 2009, the last time Tampa hosted a Super Bowl. [JAMES BORCHUCK | Times]
  3. Rays bats go silent in second straight loss to Angels (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Sure, Alex Cobb was to blame for the Rays' 4-0 loss on Tuesday.

    Derek Norris strikes out with the bases loaded as the Rays blow a golden opportunity in the seventh inning.
  4. Analysis: Manchester attack was exactly what many had long feared

    World

    LONDON — For Britain's security agencies, London always seemed like the likely target. For years, the capital of 8 million with hundreds of thousands of weekly tourists and dozens of transit hubs had prepared for and feared a major terror attack.

  5. Dade City man dies after crashing into county bus, troopers say

    Public Safety

    ZEPHYRHILLS — A 38-year-old man died Tuesday after colliding into the rear of a county bus on U.S. 301, the Florida Highway Patrol said.