Allergies? Tree pollen is likely culprit

Kem Alimole practices his Tae Kwon Do out of the sun and in the shade of some oak trees at Sheep's Meadow in Central Park Wednesday, June 8, 2005, in New York. Alimole said he chose Sheep's Meadow to practice in front of other people but said that the heat, which reached the upper 80's on Wednesday, dropped his endurance. More sun is expected through the rest of the work week, but temperatures are expected to drop into the high 70's. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)

WASHINGTON — It’s hard to enjoy the season’s beauty when you’re stuck with spring allergies, but a local allergist is here to help. 

“People suffering this time of year are allergic to tree pollen,” Dr. Martha White at the Institute for Asthma & Allergy in Wheaton, Maryland, told WTOP.

“The biggest offender during the tree pollen season is the oak tree, and that is just starting over the last several days to put out pollen,” she added.

She says the problem with oak trees is how long they keep pumping out pollen.

“Oak goes on for about six weeks, sometimes eight weeks, whereas the rest of the trees pollinate over a one to two week period and then they’re gone.”

And for those with allergies, the situation may get worse next month.

“To add insult to injury, around the beginning of May, we’re going to start getting grass pollen,” White said.

For relief, she suggests starting with common sense solutions such as keeping your windows and doors closed.

“Washing your hair after you’ve been outside or taking a shower in the evening if you’ve been outside all day and it’s been a bad pollen day, is also a good idea,” she added.

If you have pets that go outside, White suggests giving them more frequent baths when your seasonal allergies flare up.

She says there are many great over-the-counter antihistamines available today that used to be prescription-only just five or 10 years ago.

“The same thing is starting to happen for the nasal steroid sprays,” White said.

Another tip: Try to get ahead of the problem.

“Be proactive. If you know that you’ve got allergies, the sooner you start your medicine when you notice symptoms, the better it’s going to work for you.”

If all else fails, an allergist can help.

“If using one or two sprays a day of a nasal steroid spray — aiming outward — along with an antihistamine isn’t totally taking care of your symptoms, then I would definitely seek medical help from your physician,” White said.


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