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Allergies Worsen As Pollen Count Spikes Early

By Meredith Machen, mmachen@wcyb.com
Published On: Mar 22 2012 04:39:24 AM CDT
Updated On: Mar 22 2012 08:57:58 AM CDT

Spring's beauty can be deceiving. Pollen, and lots of it, can take some enjoyment out of a pretty day.

We talked to Wendy Wendy Watkins at a local park. She described her symptoms as "dry mouth, runny nose, [and] coughing."

That's because allergies are back. "If you can think of an allergy symptom it's kinda hit our house, so even our pet has allergies," said Watkins.

It's also back in full force. "Absolutely it's worse this year than it was last time, [or] last year at this time," said April Shaffer, another allergy suffer we talked to at the park.

We found out that's because a warm winter and almost hot early spring are causing plants to bloom almost a month earlier than normal.

"Peach trees are blooming, cherry trees, you have a lot of ornamentals that are blooming right now, [and] even some weedy plants," said Phil Blevinsk, Washington County, Virginia agriculture extension agent.

We checked with a local allergy clinic and learned some interesting facts about pollen in our area -- Knoxville ranks number one in the country for allergies according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, We're told our region isn't far behind.

"[Thursday], we are at an allergy alert of 649. Usually it starts at about 400 plus to be an allergy alert, so we're already at 649," said Sarah, a family nurse practitioner at Alleric Diseases, Asthma, and Immunology of Bristol.

This time last year, Belcher said the count was much lower at 401.

Some trees and plants like Bradford pears are almost done blooming but many plants in our region haven't even started, meaning there's more pollen to come.

"Some people have trouble with the White pines and we've not hit that plant yet, and [we're] certainly not into the ragweed season yet," said Blevins.

So it could be a long season ahead for those looking to enjoy the outdoors. Some said it might even be a little karma from Mother Nature.

"You pay the price for the pretty weather!" said Watkins.

We learned some helpful tips if you're sensitive to spring pollen: Keep doors and windows closed to keep pollen out of your home and car. Stay off of the grass as much as you can to reduce your contact with pollen and spores. If you're allergies get to the point that it's affecting your quality of life, we're told it's best to see an allergist.