Tuesday, July 17, 2018
Health

Tampa Bay feeling the symptoms of an intense allergy season

Sneezing? Coughing? Feeling a slight tickle in your throat?

There's a reason: Tree pollen is upon us.

The Tampa Bay region is in the midst of a "very severe" allergy season, said Dr. Richard Lockey, an allergist and distinguished health professor at the University of South Florida.

"People are having all sorts of problems," he said, naming hay fever, watery eyes and wheezing as among the symptoms.

Experts cast much of the blame on oak trees, which have been pollinating since late December. As a result, the air is now thick with irritants that can leave even non-allergy suffers feeling uncomfortable.

"We live in a virtual oak forest," Lockey said. "We have 11 different species of oak, and they bloom one right after another."

Oak trees aren't the only flora releasing pollen into the air. Cedar and cypress trees are also in bloom, Lockey said. And if you live near the beaches, add Australian pine trees to the list of possible offenders.

Making matters worse: It's still cold and flu season.

"It's a double whammy for a lot of people," said Dr. Mona Mangat, of Bay Area Allergy & Asthma in St. Petersburg. "Because of the poor air quality, it's taking forever for people to get better when they get a cold."

Nasal allergies affect an estimated one in six Americans, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America.

This year's sufferers include Paul Smith, 47, a cook who lives in St. Petersburg. Smith has had headaches and a runny nose for the last couple of weeks, he said. He's been coughing more than usual, too.

For Smith, allergies are an annual annoyance.

"There's not really too much I can do," he said. "I inherited it from my mother."

Barbara Bishop, 45, has also noticed her on-again off-again allergies flaring up, she said.

Her telltale symptom: red, watery eyes.

"I turned on the Weather Channel to see what had happened with the tornados (in the Florida Panhandle), and saw the pollen was high," Bishop said. "Then it all made sense."

While the start of this year's allergy season was right on schedule, some physicians say the sneezing has, in recent years, been starting earlier than it used to. They point to the recent spate of warm winters, which have caused the trees and grasses to pollinate earlier.

First, the bad news: Experts say the air quality is probably going to get worse over the next several weeks.

"Our season usually lasts through March," Mangat said.

Now, the good news: If you're sneezing or experiencing watery eyes or headaches, you have options.

Over-the-counter antihistamines such as Claritin, Zyrtec and their generic equivalents can provide relief from allergy symptoms, Mangat said. Over-the-counter nasal sprays such as Flonase are also fine to try, she added.

A doctor can prescribe stronger medications.

There are other ways to get relief. Stay inside. Shut the windows in your home and car. Use the air conditioning instead.

If all else fails?

"It's a good time to go to Nevada," Lockey said.

Contact Kathleen McGrory at [email protected] or (727) 893-8330. Follow @kmcgrory.

Comments
Florida nursing homes have enough staff, numbers show. But the state has shortages in other areas.

Florida nursing homes have enough staff, numbers show. But the state has shortages in other areas.

In most places across America, nursing homes are facing an acute shortage of workers to take care of the country’s growing population of aging and disabled patients. But not in Florida. A Kaiser Family Foundation report published this month found tha...
Published: 07/17/18
So far, so good. Doctors at Tampa General find success with a device that fights often-fatal aneurysms

So far, so good. Doctors at Tampa General find success with a device that fights often-fatal aneurysms

TAMPA — Dr. Murray Shames holds a flexible, lightweight tube as wide as two garden hoses pushed together in his office at Tampa General Hospital. The polyester tube, and its thinner fastening branches with metal wiring, will be attached inside someon...
Published: 07/13/18
Updated: 07/16/18
Sunday Conversation: Sherry Hoback looks to move Tampa Family Health Centers to the next level

Sunday Conversation: Sherry Hoback looks to move Tampa Family Health Centers to the next level

TAMPA — Taking over for an administrator who has run a company for almost 20 years can be daunting. • But Sherry Hoback prepared for some time to replace Charles Bottoms as CEO of the Tampa Family Health Centers, a non-profit organization that operat...
Published: 07/12/18
Updated: 07/15/18
How can City Hall improve our health? A new push in Pinellas hopes to show the way.

How can City Hall improve our health? A new push in Pinellas hopes to show the way.

The charitable organization that owns a 20 percent stake in St. Petersburg’s Bayfront Health hospital is working with local governments to improve the public’s health, part of a strategy to make a difference in new and often subtle ways. The Foundati...
Published: 07/11/18
Updated: 07/12/18
New York organ collection agency, nation’s second-largest, threatened with closure

New York organ collection agency, nation’s second-largest, threatened with closure

The government is threatening to close one of the country’s largest "organ procurement organizations" for poor performance, a rare move against a nonprofit group that collects kidneys, livers, hearts and other organs used in transplantation.In a lett...
Published: 07/11/18
Retirement communities turn their sights on a once-invisible group: LGBT seniors

Retirement communities turn their sights on a once-invisible group: LGBT seniors

In 2016, as Kenneth MacLean was about to turn 90 and was looking to move to a retirement community, he had a question for Asbury Methodist Village in Gaithersburg, Maryland."I asked, ‘Would there be many gays here? Would gays be welcomed?’ " MacLean,...
Published: 07/09/18
The other victims: First responders to horrific events often suffer in solitude

The other victims: First responders to horrific events often suffer in solitude

The day a gunman fired into a crowd of 22,000 people at the country music festival in Las Vegas, hospital nursing supervisor Antoinette Mullan was focused on one thing: saving lives.She recalls dead bodies on gurneys across the triage floor, a trauma...
Published: 07/09/18
Put your best feet forward with this health, footwear and beauty advice

Put your best feet forward with this health, footwear and beauty advice

All of a sudden, it’s hot and sunny everywhere — summer, officially — and even the shiest, palest, most woebegone toes are peeking out from their hiding places up North. They’ve been scrubbed and buffed, their nails clipped and polished. And they’re...
Published: 07/06/18
Research points to another exercise perk: mood improvement

Research points to another exercise perk: mood improvement

By Gabriella Boston Special to the Washington Post Do you go for a run to clear your head? Do you walk with friends to decompress, lift weights or do yoga to de-stress? In short, do you exercise to improve your mood? If so, you are on the right tr...
Published: 07/06/18
Mayo Clinic Q&A: tinnitus causes, treatments; liquid biopsies

Mayo Clinic Q&A: tinnitus causes, treatments; liquid biopsies

TAMP DOWN TROUBLING TINNITUS SENSATIONWhat causes tinnitus, and is there anything that can be done to get rid of it?Tinnitus, the sensation of hearing a sound when no external sound is present, often is described as a ringing, buzzing, roaring, click...
Published: 07/06/18