Pollen and allergies spike during wet May

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Allergy sufferers are having a difficult time this spring and the wet weather in May hasn't helped. (WLS)

Allergy sufferers are having a difficult time this spring and the wet weather in May hasn't helped.

Thursday is the first time this year a dangerous air quality alert has been issued.

The green grass, colorful flowers and trees may look nice in the yard but they are a problem for allergy sufferers like Susan Pacocha. She says she knew when she woke up Thursday it was not going to be a good day.

"Stuffy nose, my sinuses, the dripping in my throat, sneezing, my eyes are itchy," she says.

Retired allergist Dr. Edward Leija keeps track of the pollen count for the Chicago area, collecting samples with a device on the roof of Gottlieb Hospital at 4:30 a.m. every day. Thursday is the worst day for mold and pollen so far this year. It's a combination of the rainy weather followed by warmer temperatures and wind today.

"The weather situation is a very sensitive thing. The past few days it was cold and rain, and the pollen goes down. And now there is a little warming trend and the pollen comes out very high," says Dr. Leija.

After collecting the samples, Dr. Leija takes them to the office to study them under a microscope. There he can determine the quantity of allergens in the air as well as the type and where they are coming from. For patients like Pacocha the only ways to combat the high pollen count is to take medicine and stay inside as much as possible.

"The weather's so difficult to know what's going to happen, so this why we have to do something like this help these people, let them know what's going on," Dr. Leija says.

The measurements taken at Gottlieb Hospital are considered accurate for about a 50 mile radius. With the weather behaving this way, Dr. Leija says he expects several more days of dangerous air quality before the season is over.
Related Topics:
healthallergiesspringCook County
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