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Allergy season in full bloom for Johnson City

April 5th, 2014 9:15 pm by Tony Casey

Allergy season in full bloom for Johnson City

Though pretty, for many in Johnson City, tree blossoms such as these can often herald the beginning of allergy season. (Ron Campbell/Johnson City Press)

Allergy sufferers, especially in the Southeast, have quite the battle in front of them.

Weather experts are predicting an April 9 peak for spring allergies, though the symptoms of pollen allergies have been felt for several weeks now, and this part of the country is one of the worst spots to be impacted. AccuWeather.com released a doom and gloom forecast of what seasons sufferers can expect.

“Because of their climates, the Northeast and Southeast are hit the hardest by spring allergies,” Samantha-Rae Tuthill wrote in AccuWeather’s forecast.

She went on to quote Neil Kao, M.D., in why allergy-caused symptoms are the worst in the Southeast. Kao said that spring allergies are preliminarily triggered by tree pollens and mold, things that become prolific in the eastern portion of the country, where conditions for those particles are the strongest.

Driving around the Johnson City area in recent days has indicated that many kinds of trees are in full bloom, causing these sniffling, sneezing, dry-eyed, itchy-eyed symptoms. As is the case with the spring season in East Tennessee, heavy rains this time of year help sprout the growth of pollen-producing trees.

“The severity of tree pollen allergies depends on the growth of those trees,” Tuthill relayed from Kao. “In the Southeast, where oaks and maples are plentiful, the warmer air and intermittent rain that typically accompanies spring create ideal conditions for rapid tree growth.”

And residents of the area are starting to suffer, said Tara Quick, pharmacist from Mooney’s Pharmacy in Johnson City.

“They started coming in a couple of weeks ago,” Quick said, that pollen and ragweed are the major cause of the people coming through Mooney’s doors for help. The cheapest way for people with allergies to get some relief from their symptoms with over-the-counter medicine comes in the way of Claritin or Zyrtec, which, Quick says, costs about $6 for 100 doses. Though these options will help, the severity of symptoms depends on the individual, and Claritin and Zyrtec might not be as effective as prescribed measures.

Quick said they have seen a new and exciting possibility in recent weeks with the emergence of a nasal steroid inhaler, which can now be purchased over the counter. Nasacourt, the brand Mooney’s offers, costs about $16 per 60 uses and is extremely useful.

“As pharmacists, we’re pretty excited about this,” Quick said.

Dr. Andrew Brown at First Assist Urgent Care in Johnson City said he’s heard great things about the nasal steroid inhalers as well and is also delighted to hear they will be sold over the counter. Many people come into his clinic not knowing what’s causing them such discomfort. The first line of defense, Brown said, is trying saline sinus rinse products like the Neti Pot to clear nasal passages. Brown, who suffers from allergies himself, says he also uses prescription eye drops to aid with this time of year.

“I love the smell of Bradford Pear trees, but this is killing me,” Brown said.

Dr. Tim McDowell, a botanist and associate professor at East Tennessee State University in the Department of Biological Services, doesn’t exactly enjoy pollen, but has appreciation for the process. He thinks those who suffer from seasonal allergies would benefit from keeping up with the pollen and mold counts listed in papers like the Johnson City Press.

It’s all done naturally for the reason of production of trees and flowers, McDowell said, and that’s why it’s so bad before most of the leaves have come out, so the pollen to travel about with less resistance. For pollen to move about and, ultimately, produce more flowers and trees, wind is needed. With wind and rain in abundance in the Southeast this time of year, pollen can fly about and stick to everything from car dashboards to the breathing passages in humans, bringing havoc to allergy sufferers and those who suffer from asthma.

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