TAMPA –Get ready for a good cry. Allergy season is here.Oaks, cypress, cedar and other trees have begun their annual bloom in the Tampa Bay area, marking a six-to-eight week heyday for watery and red eyes, stuffy noses and all-around misery for allergy sufferers.

“Run the air conditioner in your car and stay indoors as much as you can,” said Richard Lockey, director of the division of allergy and immunology at the University of South Florida’s College of Medicine.

The National Allergy Bureau on Sunday reported high levels of tree pollen and mold in Sarasota, the closest city monitored for low, moderate and high concentrations of these allergens, as well as weeds and grass.

That pollen is peaking pretty much on time, or at most a week earlier than usual, Lockey said. Florida has had a warm winter and little rain, ramping up the blooms on 11 species of oaks, cypress, cedar, Australian pine and bayberry trees in the area, he said.

Allergy sufferers who know the drill realize the worst will be over by mid-March. Tree, mold and other plant allergens will peter out by mid-May.

Nearly 17 million American adults and 6.7 million children are prone to hay fever, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says. Symptoms are fairly consistent, regardless of age, and include: runny nose, nasal congestion, watery and itchy eyes, sinus pain and sneezing, and an itchy palate.

Nearly everyone can tolerate seasonal allergies with over-the-counter medication or intervention from the family doctor or an allergist, said Lockey, whose asthma and allergy practice will be at its busiest during the next month.

“If it’s bad enough, see a doctor,” he said.

It’s also important people don’t assume the allergies are just a cold or another bug. If you’re feeling lousy for more than 10 days, consider blaming the trees, Lockey said.

“The cold goes away,” he said. “The allergies persist.”


By Mary Shedden
January 28, 2013
The Tampa Tribune