Weather changes lead to pollen problems

CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WAVY) – Spring has officially been around for two weeks, but because of Mother Nature’s indecision between winter weather and spring sunshine, you might want to keep the tissues handy in the days to come.

There’s good news and bad news for allergy sufferers. spoke to a board certified allergist and an organization that just released a list you should see.

“As soon as you get those one or two random days in the late winter, early spring, the pollen counts just exorbitantly rise,” said Dr. Craig Koenig. “It’s kind of like taxes — they’re bad every year.”

But Koenig said the sharp rise in pollen is relative, and this year Hampton Roads isn’t expected to be as bad as one other place nearby. A newly released Annual Spring Allergy Capitals report ranks the 100 largest metro areas in terms of which ones are most challenging to live in with allergies. This year Richmond jumped from 22 to eight. In contrast, Virginia Beach fell from 20 to 66, and Washington, D.C. remained just about the same.

A representative with the organization that published the study said they rank cities based on three factors: pollen score, allergy medicine usage, and the ratio of board certified allergists to patients. The makers of that list say the pollen score is what made the difference shaking up the numbers for our region.

“I certainly wouldn’t ever tell a patient not to move to an area or accept a nice new job on a city higher up on the allergy sufferer list,” said Koenig.

Koenig said aside from pollen, mold could also be an issue with the amount of moisture we have had this year.

Regardless of where you fall on a list, everyone spoke to said the time is now to spring into action and be proactive about your health. If you’re not going to stay indoors or see an allergist, try to keep windows closed and remember to rinse off at the end of being outside for extended periods. And keep an eye out — a new steroid nasal spray just hit store shelves and a tablet for grass allergy sufferers is about a year away.

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