Spring has sprung and the ominous yellow clouds have begun to descend.It's estimated that somewhere around 36 million Americans are seasonal allergy sufferers, and the numbers have been steadily increasing over the past few decades.
From what I've heard and seen, pollen robs nearly all of the joy of a bright spring day from an allergy sufferer. What's worse, the season has only just begun, and last week there were eight consecutive days of "extremely high" pollen counts in all three groups counted -- trees, weeds and grass.
Some allergists are warning that a "pollen vortex" may be in the cards It's all over your car, your windows and somehow, even though you swore you didn't touch anything, it's on your clothes, too.
It's pollen, and it is definitely here for the season.for 2015. I don't know why everything discussed in the media must have these over-the-top, comic book-type names, but a "pollen vortex" does admittedly sound scary.
All it really means is that with such a long, precipitous winter, the roots of trees, weeds and grasses have been incredibly saturated with water. This makes them happy, little, green campers and causes their pollen production to go overboard.
The long winter also means a slightly delayed spring is likely -- not in these parts! -- and that can mean that all three types of pollen may peak at the same time.
Usually, they stagger their peaks as the spring progresses. This triple pollen threat, along with the increased production level, could make for a particularly miserable allergy season.
So what do you do, besides look for deals on Claritin in the coupon section?
Well, if you know you've got allergies and it hasn't hit you bad just yet, begin to take your daily nasal spray now. If you give your body the head start, it will decrease the effect pollen has on you all season -- and how many pills you'll be cramming down your throat.
If you aren't sure whether it's a cold or allergies, WebMD has a handy comparison that I find myself checking around this time every year. The whole family was hit with a change-of-the-seasons cold recently and it lingered long enough that my husband took some allergy medication just in case. It had no impact on his symptoms. I guess you can call that a low-budget allergy test.
But jokes aside, I do recommend that you get tested for allergies if you are able. I got tested once a few years back and learned that I have a mild allergy to white oak, which is typically found in the Northeast apparently, so I think I'm safe, and to cats, to which I said, "Who cares; I love them!'
I'm glad to know where I stand regardless. When you're aware of just what sets you off, you can better navigate the pollen forecasts and breathe easily.
If all else fails, rest assured that this season too shall pass. Soon we will all be turning red in another Southern summer and these yellow days will be forgotten.
-- Natalia Naman Temesgen is an independent correspondent. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.