Allergy season is here

Katherine Ranzenberger

Allergy season has officially started early, with trees throwing pollen into the air for the last week or so.

Heritage Tree Farm landscape manager Ben Barshinger holds a paper birch tree branch that still has male catkins, which release pollen, at the farm in North Codorus Township in this file photo. File photo

Amy Auerbach, medical director for Allergy and Asthma Consultants in York, said trees such as maple, cedar and juniper have been spreading pollen earlier than in previous years.

“It started early, probably because of a mild winter,” she said. “We already have some pretty high pollen counts.”

The early March warmup could result in an intense season for allergy sufferers, AccuWeather Global Weather Center said in a news release.

"As far as the pollen forecast goes, we're looking at a steady increase in the York area," Alyson Hoegg, meteorologist with AccuWeather in State College, said. "Again with that, people are starting to feel the impact of it. I think by Sunday we're in a medium to high pollen count."

The mid-Atlantic and Northeast, including the York County area, should have occasional wet weather, helping to keep the pollen counts down, Hoegg said. Some rain is expected Sunday, helping to decrease the pollen in the air.

Early: Auerbach said the worst culprits for causing spring allergies, oak and birch trees, haven’t started spreading pollen yet. She said she expects it to peak in late April and early May.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if everything comes a little early,” she said. “I think it’s likely to be a longer season this year than last year. Everything kind of came at once when it finally warmed up. Since it started early, I hope the daily levels won’t be as high as last year.”

Hoegg echoed Auerbach's comments, stating the warmer weather earlier in the season will probably bring a longer allergy season.

"With dry weather continuing and trees starting to bud, it probably will be a couple weeks before it really sets in," Hoegg said.

The pollen count on Thursday was 714, a high concentration according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. This trend is expected to continue through the weekend.

Control: Auerbach said there are many things people can do to help control their environment to lessen allergens that could cause irritation. This includes keeping windows closed, especially while driving, keeping track of the pollen count on a daily basis and not drying clothing outside on heavy pollen days.

“For kids who do outdoor spring sports, showering right after they come inside can help lessen their symptoms,” she said. “Getting tested to figure out what you’re allergic to and doing conditioning treatments can also help.”

Medication can also be used to treat seasonal allergies. Symptoms of seasonal allergies can include runny nose, itchy eyes, sore throat and sneezing. Auerbach said this can be different for children.

“It can be confusing because it can look like a cold,” she said. “It can look like pink eye, too.”

Auerbach said the best way to identify allergens is to get tested for them.