A mild winter and periods of heavy rain are just two factors contributing to what has already been a particularly difficult season for allergy sufferers in the county.

According to Dr. Sunita Kanumury, a Board Certified physician affiliated with the Hackettstown Regional Medical Center who specializes in allergies, a mild winter has led to high pollen counts and a prolonged growing season — a “good thing for farmers and gardeners, but a bad thing for allergy sufferers,” she said.

Last weekend, allergy sufferers were given some reprieve from their symptoms when heavy rains soaked the county. But even rain can be bad for those with allergies, depending on when it happens, Kanumury said. Heavy rain reduces pollen levels temporarily, but it also causes plants to grow faster.

The highest counts of pollen are on the trees, especially oaks, birches and mulberry trees, and grass has started showing signs last week, Kanumury said. She explained that the county can be difficult with its stretches of open space and consequent higher exposure to wind.

Despite the open space and heavily wooded areas, the county does not appear to be one of the more heavily affected regions, she said. She also holds offices in Newark, Union Township and Denville.

Kanumury said she started seeing symptoms in the county as early as February. In particular, she has seen patients with itchy eyes in addition to nasal symptoms. She provided some advice for residents seeking relief from their symptoms:

• Foods like peaches, apples, carrots and celery can make allergies worse, and increase symptoms like an itchy mouth and scratchy throat because they cross-react with grass and pollen.

• Keeping windows closed and minding “high pollen times,” which can be found online.

• Washing your body and face can help reduce suffering.

• Pre-medicating before allergy season starts can also help ward off reactions.

So why see an allergist? Kanumury said allergists can offer advice on how to treat symptoms, define sources of allergies and provide options beyond over-the-counter medications.

Immuno-therapy is another option for allergy-sufferers, Kanumury said. Allergy shots can alter the progression of allergies, rather than just the symptoms.


By Todd PettyWednesday
April 25, 2012