Pollen levels high, but not unusual

The sure signs of fall in Northern Nevada are the cottonwood trees turning from green to yellow, the warm days and brisk nights and the omnipresent sniffling and sneezing of the area's allergy sufferers.

Though it might seem logical that a more serious allergy season would occur after the area's wetter-than-normal winter and spring, allergy specialist Dr. Boris Lokshin said the problems are no worse than in previous years.

"We always have a pretty good allergy season; it's just the nature of the area." he said. "In the spring it's juniper and grasses and in the fall it's tumbleweed and then sagebrush, so we have this conversation every year."

Pollen counts taken at the office of Lokshin and his colleague, Dr. Leonard Shapiro, at 2005 Silverada Blvd., Sparks, which measure the amount of airborne allergens present in the air was 207.9 parts per cubic meter of air as of Sept. 28, the latest available count.

Tests are made for pollen from trees, grass and weeds. Grass pollen is absent this time of year and tree pollen was in the low range, at 8.89 parts per cubic meter of air.

Weed pollen was the main culprit, listed in the high range at 199.1 parts per cubic meter of air, 92 percent coming from sagebrush and 4 percent coming from a combination of rabbit brush, ragweed and tumbleweed.

Sagebrush is the main culprit now, Lokshin said, though tumbleweed was the predominant pollen in mid-August.

"It's 92 percent sagebrush right now, which is pretty consistent," he said. "It probably started a few weeks ago when the nights turned cool, that's when the pollen started."

The actual count fluctuates from week to week and season to season," Lokshin said. "There are multiple factors affecting the county. If you have a lot of sagebrush in your back yard, your count would be higher."

Seasonal allergic rhinitis, or hay fever, affects more than 35 million Americans, according to the American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology, and symptoms include sneezing, congestion, a runny nose, and itchiness in the nose, roof of the mouth, throat, eyes and ears. Lokshin said there is a higher rate of allergies in children than adults.

Allergy symptoms are often minimal on days that are rainy, cloudy or windless, because pollen does not move about during these conditions. Hot, dry and windy weather signals greater pollen and mold distribution and thus, increased allergy symptoms.

The only thing that will end the allergy season, Lokshin said, is a good, strong frost.

Treatments are usually antihistamines, though the effectiveness varies from patient to patient. "The most effective treatment is the one that works," Lokshin said.

-- Contact reporter Karen Woodmansee at kwoodmansee@nevadaappeal.com or 882-2111 ext. 351.


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