NEW ORLEANS -- It's beginning with a light dusting on cars, streets, sidewalks, and everywhere else, but with these warm temperatures, combined with the mild winter, the concern is it could get a lot messier with pollen.
"A lot of plants use cues like the temperature," said Dr. Paul Barnes, a biology professor at Loyola University. He explains the warmer weather makes a lot of plants think it's spring time, or rather a time to reproduce.
"They're advanced or accelerated by two weeks or even more," said Barnes.
So that means a range of trees from, Sweet Gum, Birch, to Cyprus, all of which are abundant in New Orleans are now producing pollen. That's bad news for allergy sufferers like Precious Kirk.
"Pollen causes lots of itchiness, skin, eyes," said Kirk.
Kirk not only suffers from allergies but asthma. She said this year; her symptoms are far worse than years past.
"Been having a lot of asthma attacks," said Kirk.
According to Pollen.com, the pollen count around the South and Louisiana has increased much higher than the rest of the country. Today's count in New Orleans is 10.9. Thursday's will be 11.4. The scale goes up to 12.
"A lot of people think the pollen they see on their car and outside is what's causing the issue but actually pollen is wind-borne and microscopic," said Dr. Sonia Kamboj, an allergy specialist with Breathe Easy Allergy and Asthma.
With more pollen in the air, Dr. Kamboj now has a busy waiting room of patients. It's a surprise to Kamboj who says usually things pick up in March. Most come in for medication, but she says depending on severity in cases, more are turning to allergy therapy.
"That means you are part of a regimen that desensitizes you to your triggers and your allergies, so you don't need everyday medications."
Of course, a big freeze or a couple of them could help keep pollen low, but that looks unlikely in this part of the country as we move forward into spring.
If you're wondering, spring time isn't the only time pollen is produced. Right not it's mostly trees, but in the summer, you can expect grass pollen, and in the fall, it would be ragweed. All can cause flare ups, but springtime is generally the worse for allergy sufferers.
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