ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – Most recent pollen counts indicate major allergies are low to medium so, then why does it feel like allergies are worse this year? Experts say it could all come down to the weather.
Many New Mexicans don’t need a pollen count to tell them what their eyes, nose and throat already know. Allergy season is in full swing and, for some, it seems worse.
“One major reason is the rains,” said Allergy Immunologist Dr. Sam Wang.
Allergy immunologist Dr. Sam Wang says monsoon rains spurred rapid weed growth, sending a surge of pollen from the region’s most aggravating weeds.
“Here, we can detect about 18 different kinds of weeds,” Wang said.
From Ragweed and Sage to Tumbleweed, Alfalfa and Pigweed, Wang says he’s seen allergy seasons like this in the past.
While the cause of allergies is very complex, Wang says it’s possible for people to develop them over time, especially if they’re new to an area.
“Many people move to a new place with new environmental pollens. The first year, they might not have any allergy symptoms but after one year, two or three years, then they develop a new allergy to the new stuff,” explained Wang.
In a bad year, Wang says those first-time allergies could be even worse. For many, the reaction can be debilitating, causing fatigue in addition to aggravating sinuses and asthma.
It means some will need to take greater precautions.
“On bad days you may need to stay inside more, close the windows, use a HEPA filter,” Wang explained.
Wang says nasal rinses, anti-histamines and nasal steroid sprays can provide short-term relief.
“Best of all in long-term is called allergen specific immuno-therapy,” said Wang.
That’s when you get natural vaccinations to treat what you’re allergic to. Doctors start small, injecting low doses of allergens. Gradually, they up the dose until the patient’s immune system has built up a resistance.
The shots can be pricey, but according to recent studies, Wang says they could pay off in the long run.
“Financially, it saved, both of the studies showed, it saved 35 to 50-percent for the patients,” Wang said.
Wang also suggests using a surgical mask to protect you from allergies when you have to go outside on an especially bad day. He says the medical masks just don’t work as well.
He says it’s best to take precautions before the season starts. That means getting started on nasal sprays and using nasal rinses before the peak of allergy season. If you opt for the shots, he says you’ll want to start those a month or two before the season.