Allergy

Colorful ornamentals bloom along Interstate 99 near the Bedford turnpike interchange. Tree pollen may contribute to what may be a rough spring allergy season.

Amid all of the medical and economic woes associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, many residents are — or soon will be — dealing with a different sort of misery: spring allergy season.

This year’s season could be a miserable one, according to local ear, nose and throat specialist Dr. Elliott Bilofsky, whose Snake Spring Township office is at 202 Memorial Drive.

He said he was expecting the spring season to be “a little bit worse than average” because of the wet winter that we experienced. The wetter weather, he said, has a tendency to increase the allergens produced by plants, trees, grass and even mold.

“It open’s up people’s allergy symptoms a little bit sooner than you would expect,” he said.

The up-and-down temperatures that saw temperatures soar to near 80 on a couple of occasions didn’t help, Bilofsky said. We’ve experienced cooler temperatures since then, but allergy sufferers will be feeling it as the temperature warms, he said.

Bilofsky’s predictions square with those of other sources.

AccuWeather, for example, said that “allergy sufferers in the eastern United States should brace for a long and severe season this spring,” adding, “grass pollen sufferers will face a long and severe season into summer.”

The Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation recommends cleaning or replacing air filters on air conditioners, then using the air conditioning rather than allowing pollen-filled air to blow through windows. The same holds true for autos, the foundation suggests.

Some other tips include washing hands and changing clothes after spending time outside, and more frequent baths for pets who spend time outdoors.

“Over-the-counter antihistamines are your friend,” said OMRF immunologist Dr. Eliza Chakravarty.

This year, the usual allergy miseries for many come with a healthy dose of anxiety because of the COVID pandemic. While the normal assortment of allergy symptoms are more annoying than dangerous, that’s not true of the virus. Fortunately, Bilofsky said, the two are not difficult to tell apart.

“The biggest distinction is going to be the fever,” he said. While an allergy may be accompanied by a cough, the telltale symptoms are sneezing, a runny nose and itchy, watery eyes. If there is any fever associated with an allergy, it will be very low grade, he said.

While symptoms vary, the most common with COVID are a fever, cough and shortness of breath.

Contact Paul Rowan at prowan@bedfordgazette.com, 623-1151, ext. 140.

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