Video: Record pollen brings bad allergy season

  1. Closed captioning of: Record pollen brings bad allergy season

    >>> if you're doing a lot of sniffling and sneezing, you're in good company. the spring allergy season is really shaping up to be one of the worst in years. we've got nbc 's chief medical editor, dr. nancy snyderman joining us now with the lowdown.

    >> pring spring is in the air. the bees are out, flowers are in bloom. problem is, not everybody's so happy about it. the annual pollen attack has begun early. thanks to heavy winter snow and rain and now unusually warm temperatures across much of the country.

    >> the worst i've ever seen. yes, it is.

    >> reporter: in georgia , the pollen count is at near-record levels. al williams has been cleaning the yellow dust off his car every few hours.

    >> three minutes from now it will be back to where it was.

    >> reporter: for more than 40 million americans who suffer from seasonal allergies, few things feel worse.

    >> messed up your sinuses. makes you feel really bad.

    >> reporter: the main culprit this t time of year is tree pollen. like the birch trees growing right outside dr. jillian shepherd's new york city office.

    >> this is still a couple of weeks away from developing that fine powder.

    >> reporter: but her practice is already picking up speed.

    >> the phones start ringing, people say, please, squeeze me in. the minute you see the first flower on the first tree, that's it.

    >> reporter: and for a lot of people, it doesn't take long for the misery to set in.

    >> i get the watery eyes, the runny nose , can't breathe. i get it pretty bad.

    >> reporter: as for the age-old question -- spring colds versus allergies. how can you tell the difference?

    >> allergies never cause a fever. allergies rarely cause sore throats. and most colds start with symptoms in the throat. itchy eyes are major problem which one never sees with a cold.

    >> reporter: for most people over the countrier medicines are just fine. but when those don't work, it is time to pick up the phone and call your doctor. if you're looking for an over-the-counter medication, those antihistamines and decongestants can work but nasal sprays work. in the meantime, run in the morning when the pollen is on the ground, take off your clothes at the end of the day , throw them in the dirty laundry . wash your hair.

    >> you have a map showing what areas of the country are worse than others.

    >> red spots are obviously the hotspots. atlanta, up to phoenix , tulsa. boy, you can see sort of the eastern creep and that middle creep. lot of snow, lot of water, and now a lot of warm weather. perfect storm .

    >> you're reporting basically it is coming early. is this pollen/allergy season going to end early if.

    >> the rain we're seeing right now will make today better but it will make things grow more. so expect this -- trees, grasses, then you get a respite. then guess what? hay fever in august.

    >> thank you this morning.

    >>> ahead, an exclusive interview with

updated 4/9/2010 8:26:33 AM ET 2010-04-09T12:26:33

Pollen: It's on your car, in the air and especially in your sinuses.

From Florida to Texas to Colorado, 2010 is shaping up to be a monster of an allergy season. The words "pollen" and "allergy" are among the top 10 trending topics on Twitter in several U.S. cities. Everywhere, it seems, is covered in a fine yellow dust that irritates our lives. Experts say it's the worst they've seen in years.

"It's wicked bad this year," said Dr. Mona Mangat, an allergy specialist in St. Petersburg, Fla., who can't recall a worse year in the six she's worked there. "We're just overwhelmed with patients right now. We're double- and triple-booked with new patients, trying to work people in because we know how much people are suffering."

And they are suffering a lot. Take 5-year-old Sam Wilson of St. Petersburg. His mom gives him Claritin in the morning, Nasonex and Benadryl at night, and he receives four allergy shots every week. The sidewalks of his hometown are covered in what look like piles of dried, brown worms — but they are mounds of oak tree pollen.

The boy's mother said that when the pollen is at its worst, his eyes water and itch, he can't breathe through his nose and his throat burns.

"His reaction yesterday was pretty bad," said his mother, 34-year-old Joanna Wilson on Thursday. "He couldn't breathe, he was completely congested, and crying."

Oak trees are the culprit in many places in the Southeast.

The trees produce 3,000 to 6,000 pollen particles per cubic meter; it only takes 10 particles to trigger an allergic reaction.

J.P. Levins, executive Web producer for the site, said he's received a lot of e-mails from suffering Floridians — but he expects more complaints from other parts of the U.S. soon.

"The season is actually just picking up," he said, adding that most of the country is facing high pollen counts.

This year is especially bad in the Southeast, weather experts say, probably due to winter's unseasonably cold weather.

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"That may have helped delay some of the plants from blooming as early as they may have wanted to," said John Feerick, senior meteorologist at AccuWeather. "It's the fact that everything is coming out all at once."

High winds in some areas also spread the misery.

"We had a perfect storm this year," said Dr. William Storms, professor at University of Colorado and a clinician. "It's the worst I've seen in 10 years."

Tree pollen season should subside within a few weeks, but experts say some will continue to suffer because grass and weed allergies rise in the summer months.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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