Yellow dust, Spring fever: Allergy season strikes early

By Andy Jenks - bio | email
Posted by Terry Alexander - email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Spring is here and tree pollen appears to be taking over. Two types of pollen are in the air right now: oak, and pine. The yellow dust is everywhere, which is making things unpleasant for allergy sufferers.

John Hackett is trying to catch a fish. But it's only a matter of time before his daughter, Emily, catches a "spring fever".

"It happens after everything gets covered in yellow. You just feel like your head's under water. And you always need a tissue," Emily said.

She's talking about allergies - specifically, the congestion that coincides will all those pretty colors on the trees.

"Some people are think they have a really severe cold with the allergies," John said.

They're caused by tree pollen, and right now the levels are way up, no surprise to anyone who's tried washing their car. Doctors say it's the result of a very wet winter.

"The dampness in the ground, I would think, is going to mean a very bad pollen season," said Dr. Michael Blumberg, an allergist.

To put it in perspective, last year at this time, the pollen count was 9 grains per cubic meter. Today, that number is 2,505.

"Getting all this tree pollen in early April, you would expect is gonna create more problems as we go through the rest of the Spring and even beyond," Dr. Blumberg said.

Doctors say a trip to the pharmacy isn't always a good first step.

"It amazes me how many people think they've got allergies to pollen or mold, or their animals...but they really have no idea," said Dr. Blumberg.

Instead, a specialist can determine which pollens affect you the most, and treat you accordingly, allowing you to enjoy the rest of the year - symptom free.

"Yeah there's pollen everywhere, but there's going to be flowers and everything's green, and Richmond's gorgeous when everything's green," Emily said.

Doctors say tree pollen usually peaks in mid to late April. The levels could go down, but it would take a cold snap, or a lot of rain to make that happen. For information on pollen levels, click here.

Copyright 2010 WWBT NBC12. All rights reserved.