Doctors: Overlapping pollen seasons are causing tough allergy season

GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) – If you feel like your allergies are worse this year than ever before, you’re not alone and experts say it’s because pollen seasons seem to be overlapping.

Wednesday's allergy report from Kagen Allergy Clinic shows the cumulative tree pollen count so far this year (5,148) hasn't been this high since 2012 (7,196).

Doctors are calling it the perfect storm saying it doesn't necessarily mean trees are giving off more pollen than usual, but that more trees are budding at the same time.

“What is happening is the pollen zones seem to be increasing quite a bit so where you might have only had pollen at a certain point of the year in a particular area, those times of the year are stretching and that is happening with a lot of different pollens,” said Dr. James Warpinski, an allergist with Bellin Health. “So now you are starting to get overlap where one season overlaps the next season and so you get a double dose of pollen.”

“We've got Birch pollen, we've got Maple pollen, Ash, Mulberry, Cottonwood, Oak, Willow and Hickory all in the air simultaneously,” said Dr. Steve Kagen, Kagen Allergy Clinic. “So no matter what you are allergic to, if it's a tree pollen, you are going to have some itchy eyes, sinus congestion, nasal congestion and sneezing.”

For days like Wednesday, with the damp and wet rain, doctors said it may offer some relief for those suffering from tree allergies by washing the pollen out of the air, but for those who have mold allergies, it's a different story.

“The rain will facilitate or increase amount of mold available to come out of the ground and make people have their allergy and sinus attacks then,” said Dr. Kagen.

Doctors said people might also think they are worse this year because more people are suffering from them.

“The question is why? Well the current thinking is how we expose ourselves to bacteria and different things, even starting in the infant period of time when we are so clean around here that we prevent ourselves from being exposed to the things that would actually protect ourselves from allergies down the road,” said Dr. Warpinski.

For those suffering with allergies, there are over the counter medications that can help ease the itchy eyes and runny nose. Dr. Kagen and Dr. Warpinski say the best medications to look for are non-drowsy antihistamines and corticosteroid nose sprays. However, they say you should watch out for decongestant sprays.

“The decongestant nose sprays, those that take away congestions, you can get hooked on those so you have to really follow the direction on the box,” said Dr. Warpinski.

Doctors said if you do use an over-the-counter allergy medication, you should tell your doctor or pharmacist to make sure it doesn’t interfere with other medications you are taking at the same time.

Other than medication, doctors said after spending the day outside, you should shower and change your clothes when you go back inside. Dr. Warpinski said you should also turn on your air conditioning to filter the air. Even though it’s not that hot out, he said there is still a lot of pollen in the air.