In The News: Causes of Hay Fever Returning Early This Year

| 2/22/2012 3:20:23 PM

J.PattonA throbbing head and stuffy nose in February usually seems like an easy diagnosis in the midst of cold and flu season. However, this year, the causes of hay fever are already here to stay, and allergies may be to blame.

It may seem hard to believe, but spring allergies have already started in many parts of the United States. Thanks to a mild winter, symptoms may start earlier and last longer than usual for those sensitive to tree pollen.

Across the country, allergists were logging record pollen counts as early as mid-January. During a normal allergy season, spring allergy sufferers would usually start noticing mild symptoms in February, with the really miserable symptoms, such as itchy eyes, sneezing and runny noses, taking effect around March. This year, many people are already in the midst of the misery as I write this blog.

Some experts are predicting a longer allergy season than normal as well. However, that is difficult to predict, because the length of an allergy season depends on the amount of rainfall an area receives. After trees start blooming, as long as rain keeps coming, the flowers on the trees keep producing pollen. When a season is warm and dry, pollen comes and goes quickly.

Many plants and trees, such as the willow tree, that cause spring allergies are already in bloom.
Photo by Through the Lens of Kimberly Gauthier/Courtesy

If you feel spring allergies sneaking up on you already, there are a few steps you can take to fight back: