Cold, cloudy spring leads to surge in allergy symptoms

CREATED May 28, 2014

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MERTON – There’s been a sharp surge in sore throats, sneezes and other symptoms surrounding allergies in the last few weeks.  The increase is mainly due to our cold and cloudy spring prolonging trees from flowering and producing pollen.

Tony Arnoldi is a Board Certified Master Arborist and Diagnostician for Wachtel Tree Science, he tells TODAY’S TMJ4’s Jesse Ritka that every tree has a flower, even though we really only see or notice a few types of flowering trees. 

It’s how the weather interacts with the flower that can impact your allergies, “Trees are big, they have a lot of flowers in each tree so there's a lot at one time to be dealt with in the spring.  Everyone’s not susceptible to every single pollen but in the course of time as everything blooms, trees, shrubs, plants everything I mean there's bound to be something that irritates someone.”

But the allergy season in Wisconsin is usually more gradual; the cold and cloudy spring delayed the trees from slowly flowering from March through June.  The slow warm-up created a slow start to the allergy season but the trees are catching up now Arnoldi explains, “When it’s all compressed like that when trees were waiting for a long time, then it gets warm, then a lot bloom at once, there's a lot of pollen to be had at one time.”

The tree pollen even impact the arborist himself, “I'm one of those people that have experienced some of that,” Arnoldi says.

And the drastic temperature swings have not been helping.  “It got warm enough to open the flowers but then the flowers were held open by cold following,” Arnoldi explains, admitting last year was even worse.  If the flowers stay open, pollen will continue to be released into the air Arnoldi adds, “Then once the petals start falling off it's all over and everything but there's about a week, 10 days, for every single plant that flowers, there's time period in there that they're releasing pollen.”

And until that cycle is complete, the coughing, sneezing and headaches will continue.  But Arnoldi doesn’t want you to grab the chainsaw to truncate the allergy season, “Trees are great and trees flower and that's part of it but they'll also produce the leaves and the shade and all the wonderful wildlife benefits so it's good to have them and the little bit of time you have to deal with this... oh well.”

He points out that many insects will follow, or coincide, with the tree flowering cycle so arborists can monitor when trees are flowering to know when to spray for insects efficiently.

Pollen counts are usually highest between 10am and 4pm, here are some tips to help keep your allergy symptoms at bay:
   -Take allergy medication during the season

   -Take a shower to rinse off the pollen before bed

   -Limit your time outdoors

   -Keep windows and doors closed

   -Leave your shoes by the door so you don't bring pollen further indoors

   -Keep your humidity level indoors below 50%

   -Recirculated the air in your car on high pollen count days

   -Change the furnace and air conditioner filter

   -Dry your clothes in the dryer, not on an outdoor line