Rain, warmer weather triggering allergies - East Valley Tribune: News

Rain, warmer weather triggering allergies

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Posted: Friday, February 26, 2010 9:10 pm | Updated: 3:36 am, Sat Oct 8, 2011.

The near-record rainfall levels in January, followed by some spring-like, warmer days in February, has sparked tree pollen growth in the Valley.

Itchy eyes? Sneezing? Runny nose?

It may feel like a cold, but it could be allergies, local physicians say.

The near-record rainfall levels in January, followed by some spring-like, warmer days in February, has sparked tree pollen growth in the Valley.

This typically happens with increased rain, said Chandler physician Bilge Bayar, an emergency room doctor who works at Premier Emergency Medical Specialists in Chandler.

“More allergens are out in the environment at this point,” she said.

The change of weather often triggers allergy symptoms, including post-nasal drip and coughs, she said.

Gilbert doctor Reed Shimamoto said “people are miserable for a number of reasons,” but mostly the non-native trees around the Valley, including ash and elm.

“Things that have been transplanted here — walnut, pecan — those kinds of early spring trees are blooming,” he said.

Plus, with the increased moisture, mold counts may be up.

“Rains present great things and bad things,” he said, noting that the air is cleaned in the short term but winds before storms may kick up allergens “right at nose level.”

Plus, this year there has been a lack of frost combined with warm weather, which has triggered early blooming, including Kentucky Blue Grass and rye grass.

Chandler mom Anna Coody said everyone in her family suffers from allergies. Most of the family members use a generic medication, so no one has felt the onset of symptoms quite yet.

“We have allergies, but surprisingly, so far everyone has been doing okay,” Coody said via e-mail. “I’m waiting for the weather to warm up and everything to start blooming to see what’s really up.”

Coody said she also “religiously” changes the air filters in her home.

People who suffer from allergies can seek relief from over-the-counter medications recommended by a pharmacist who knows a patient’s medication history, Bayar said.

But if that doesn’t help, she recommends seeing an allergist or family doctor.

Shimamoto, whose San Tan Allergy and Asthma office is located on the Gilbert-Mesa border, said patients have had several complaints lately. What’s difficult for them to distinguish right now is whether they’re suffering from a virus or allergy because it is respiratory viral season and the state is seeing high numbers of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), a virus that can cause mucus in airway passages.

“If you have runny nose, cough, itchy eyes, it’s probably allergies if you don’t have a fever or if you’re the only one at home who is sneezing,” Shimamoto said.

A family physician or allergist can help determine between the two, he said.

While there are several Web sites that list pollen counts, most of those are based on seasonal information, not actual data collected in the Valley, Shimamoto said. Arizona does not have a certified pollen counting space, but he said he is working to get certified to change that.

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