2014 allergy season could be one of the worst, doctors say

Gottlieb Memorial Hospital allergist Dr. Joseph Leija predicts this allergy season could be one of the worst on record. With a late start, the pollen could hit in one heavy dose.
April 21, 2014 2:52:04 PM PDT
Every morning on the roof of Gottlieb Memorial Hospital in Melrose Park, Dr. Joseph Leija conducts an allergy count -- the official reading for the Midwest.

After studying Monday's samples, the Gottlieb allergist noticed that tree pollen was high. The warm, dry weekend Chicago experienced was ideal for tree pollen.

"I think once the weather changes and it gets warmer, we will have a heavy season. No question about it," Dr. Leija said. Some doctors predict could be one of the worst on record.

Pollination typically begins in late February. Since the cold weather lasted well into April, spring is starting nearly two months late. A late spring start results in a shorter allergy season, but doctors warn pollen could hit in one heavy, intense dose this year.

"As soon as it starts to rain and get warmer, it'll be grass and pollen coming out in large quantities," Dr. Leija said.

Those large quantities of pollen leave allergy sufferers in misery, suffering from congestion, runny nose, itching-watery eyes, sneezing and coughing.

Dr. Leija said it's still too soon to tell how the allergy season will shape up. But the determining factor is the weather.

"Depending on the situation with the weather, in the next few days it's going to be cool again and probably rain - it'll keep everything down with the pollen," Dr. Leija said. "Today was a little warmer and the pollen is up there."

The peak of 2014 pollen season is expected to be sometime in the middle of May.

During that peak season, those who suffer from allergy symptoms should close the windows and use the air conditioner. It's also a good idea to take allergy medication a week before the season starts or on a regular basis, since it typically takes a couple days for it start working.

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