A cold May brought a reprieve for some allergy sufferers, but pollen from grass and weeds could strike with a vengeance in coming months.
It could be a “huge” season for allergens because of the wet winter and spring that have given rise to a vivid green landscape across the region, said Dr. Gregory Schackel with Southwestern Colorado, Ear Nose & Throat Associates. The allergy season typically lasts until November.
In coming weeks, it will be grasses, such as alfalfa, causing runny noses, itchy eyes and other symptoms. Schackel said he expects it will be a “terrible” season for grass.
The weeds, such as ragweed, will drive allergy complaints in August, September and October.
“We’ll probably have a gangbuster weed year,” he said.
High pollen counts could affect those who typically don’t think much about the allergy season and haven’t prepared, Schackel said.
In addition to the host of typical annoying symptoms, allergies can also cause more serious conditions, such as asthma flare-ups, and ear and sinus infections, he said.
Secondary sinus infections from allergies can swell the sinuses shut, causing persistent colored drainage and pain in the face and upper teeth, he said.
Patients should seek medical care if they are experiencing more serious symptoms, he said.
Allergy sufferers can prepare by taking oral immunotherapy drops.
“The most natural way to treat your allergies is to go through testing, find out what you’re allergic to and then do drops under the tongue,” Schackel said.
The drops introduce allergens into the body and train the immune system to ignore and tolerate the pollens that cause symptoms, he said.
Allergy sufferers must start the drops eight weeks in advance of the pollen season that is problematic for the treatment to be effective, he said.
Testing to determine what an individual is allergic to is typically covered by insurance, but the drops aren’t usually covered, he said. Immunotherapy drops typically cost about $65 a month.
Residents can also try to control their symptoms by keeping the air inside the home as clean as possible, Schackel said. Simple steps to control indoor air quality include keeping doors and windows closed and using air filters.
Residents can track the pollen count in the region at pollen.com.