Remember the brutally cold snow fest last year? Seems as if it did more than wreak havoc for a lot of people, it also caused elms, cedars and other trees that typically flower early in the year to hold off for warmer weather.

The Washington Post reports:

Now, with more springlike days finally in the forecast, those trees are poised to pollinate alongside oaks, cottonwoods and pines, as well as some grasses. The result could mean a perfect storm of pollen in coming days — and an especially miserable stretch for allergy sufferers.

“Grab your Kleenex,” said Susan Kosisky, chief microbiologist at the U.S. Army Centralized Allergen Extract Laboratory. “It’s coming.”

Every day on the roof of Kosisky’s lab in Silver Spring, two small greased rods spin through the air, collecting pollen particles. She said that over the past 15 years, the average daily measurement for the first week in April has been about 353 grains per cubic meter of air. That figure can spike to more than 4,000 at the peak of the allergy season.

Earlier this week, the reading stood at 109 grains per cubic meter, well below average.

That meant temporary good news for many allergy sufferers, Kosisky said. But it also suggested a tidal wave of pent-up pollen could be coming our way as the area heads toward the height of allergy season later this month. In fact, by Friday, the decent weather already had sent pollen counts climbing.

“Trees, grasses, weeds, even mold spores,” Kosisky said. “In our area, there is something for everyone.”

Soon, the cars and sidewalks that have been covered in snow through much of the winter (and into spring) could be coated in a familiar yellow-green dust. And many people will be trading in winter coats for runny noses, itchy eyes and uncontrollable sneezing.

The danger of a shorter but more intense allergy season, specialists say, is that it could overwhelm immune systems, triggering potentially serious health issues.

“It’s more than just a nuisance for some people,” said Sally Joo Bailey, assistant professor of allergy and immunology at Georgetown University. “On some really bad days, if you have pollen allergies, you could have a severe asthma attack. When your nasal area gets inflamed because of allergies, it doesn’t just stop there. It can get into your lungs.”

Experts say people with allergies can take measures to lessen their contact with pollen, including using central air conditioning rather than opening windows, wearing sunglasses when outdoors and washing their hands frequently. In addition, doctors say patients who know they have spring allergies can begin taking antihistamines before the worst of the season arrives.

Are you suffering from allergies? What do you do to combat the onset watery eyes and runny noses?

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