Tree pollen rising in area, but worst is yet to come

Maple, juniper, cedar, and a little oak are current culprits

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Thursday, April 11, 2019
Tree pollen rising in area, but worst is yet to come
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Tree pollen rising in area, but worst is yet to come - Ali Gorman reports during Action News at 5pm on April 10, 2019.

MT. LAUREL, N.J. (WPVI) -- Millions of people are seeing online videos such as one from Georgia showing a cloud of pollen being stirred up by a helicopter.

Another from Tennessee shows a falling tree sending up a yellow cloud as it hits the ground.

The prompts the question: is there that much pollen in our area too?

Allergy specialists say not yet, but levels are rising and the worst is yet to come.

Spring is definitely in the air along with pollen.

But don't blame flowering trees like cherry, apple, or magnolia.

The culprits which have people feeling not-sot-great is pollen from trees like maple, juniper, and cedar. And there's even a little oak right now.

"Congested nose, sore throat, runny nose, puffy eyes, all of the above," Bryon Wright of Fairmount told us.

"Its usually not too bad, it just feels uncomfortable like I have a cold that will never go away," says Laura Connor of West Philadelphia.

Videos of so-called pollen bombs like this one in Tennessee are going viral.

However, local allergists say the South always has much higher pollen counts then we do here.

Their counts can top 4,000 grains of pollen per cubic meter of air, whereas counts here top at 2,000.

Doctor Donald Dvorin of the Asthma Center monitors local pollen counts every day with this device on the roof.

He says allergy season here started a little late and hasn't been consistent.

"We saw some high days, but then some very low days," says Dr. Dvorin.

To keep tabs on the daily pollen readings, CLICK HERE. New readings are posted about 9 a.m.

Currently, tree pollen is listed as "very high" but expect an even bigger surge in the next three weeks as oak trees come into full bloom, especially if the weather conditions are right.

"If you have less rain, more wind and more heat you will see a much higher pollen count," says Dr. Dvorin.

He says if you know you have allergies to tree pollen, starting medication early will save you from feeling lousy later.

"If you can pre-treat yourself by one week prior to the peak of the season, you will suppress the whole season for your symptoms," he adds.

Last year, the peak time for tree pollen hit May 3rd.

Allergists in the Philadelphia area and Lehigh Valley expect this year's peak to be around the same time.

Fortunately, Dr. Dvorin says mold spores haven't been very high yet, however, that could change if the weather turns wet.

For mild symptoms, doctors recommend an over-the-counter, 24-hour, non-drowsy antihistamine.

If you have more severe and longer-lasting symptoms, talk to you healthcare provider. You may need more powerful medication, however, everyone reacts differently to different drugs.

Dr. Dvorin says overall, "Allergy shots are the best way to go, because you are suppressing your over-reactive immune system."

The doctor says there are also new medications this year, such as RyVent (carbonoxamine), a tablet you take by mouth.

He says nasal sprays are also very effective.

He describes a new one called Xhance (fluticasone proprionate) as "an improved version of Flonase."

You don't sniff Xhance, but blow into it, to deliver the medication high into your nasal passages.

So there's more medication where it's needed, and less down your throat.