What Has Happened With the 2019 Pollen Season? (Originally written May 15, 2019)

Shakespeare reportedly said, “All the world’s a stage”.  With that in mind, by now it should be Act Two of the 2019 Pollen Play, but it seems that some of the ‘actors’ have missed their cues.   May is over and usually by this time; the trees would usually be almost done with their allotted time on the pollen ‘stage’, and should be taking a graceful bow.  Grass would typically be in full ‘bloom’ and people would be starting to feel miserable.  This year, however, the winter scenery is still on-stage. (OK enough of the theatrical motif!)

What is happening with Utah’s pollen season?

Utah’s pollen season started out normally with Elm pollen in early March, but with the colder than normal temperatures for much of the spring, several of Utah’s tree pollens have been lower than expected.

Usually, Juniper pollen (comes from Juniper trees – but commonly called ‘Cedar’) is the worst tree pollen we deal with in Utah.  This year, it was much lower than usual, so overall, the early spring pollen season has been less than awful for many.

How will grass pollen be affected this year?

Utah’s grass pollen usually starts to show up in early May, and in a typical year would be high by now.  However, the temperature can affect grass pollination significantly, and we have only seen a few days with high grass pollen this spring.

If the rain ever stops, and the temperatures rise into the low 80’s, we could see intense, dramatic grass pollination.  The last cooler, wetter-than-usual, spring in Utah, was several years ago.  That year, Utah’s grass pollination started in June and persisted well into the last half of July.  We may see the same thing again.

What other Utah pollens should I watch for?

Late summer and fall in Utah is the time for weed pollination.  This generally begins in late July or early August, and peaks about mid-September.  The past few years, we have seen milder fall pollen levels, possibly due to higher than average temps and little rain.  If the cool, wet weather persists into the late summer again, we could see dramatic (for Utah) pollens.  In Utah, our fall pollen season is relatively mild compared to other parts of the country.

In the Intermountain areas, Sagebrush and Russian Thistle usually lead the pack in the fall.  However, in the Midwest, Ragweed is king!  We have significantly less ragweed here, than most places east of the Mississippi, and for that we are grateful!

How can I find out what Utah’s pollen count is?

At Intermountain Allergy and Asthma, we publish Utah pollen count information. Please follow the pollen count by checking our website:  Intermountainallergy.com.  We count the pollen four days a week, Monday through Thursday.  Remember that the pollen count is always delayed 24 hours.  It is collected for a 24-hour period, and then counted and reported the next morning.

If your allergies are milder than usual this year – good for you!  If they get worse (there’s a good chance of that) remember that many allergy medicines work best if used daily.  If you want to get ahead of the pollen allergies that are coming in the next few months or are absolutely miserable, make an appointment with Intermountain Allergy and Asthma and find out what can be done.

Duane J. Harris, MD
Intermountain Allergy & Asthma of Draper

New to Intermountain Allergy and Asthma?

If you suffer from allergies or asthma, now is a great time to consider starting professional treatment.  Dr. Harris and Dr. Anderson accept new asthma patients of all ages and most insurance plans.  If you have questions about insurance coverage, please contact us Intermountain Allergy and Asthma at (801) 553-1900 (Dr. Harris) or (801) 476-0052 (Dr. Anderson) and we will be happy to assist you.

If you don’t have health insurance, we offer a discount and monthly payment options. It is Dr. Harris’ and Anderson’s goal to provide the best medical treatment for their patients while working with patients to keep costs and payments reasonable.

Thank you for allowing us Intermountain Allergy and Asthma to be part of your health care team – we look forward to seeing you!

Asthma Season: 4 Steps to Improve Asthma Control

The peak time for asthma symptoms in northern Utah is usually late December thru mid-February.  That’s because three things in winter can worsen asthma:

1. Cold, dry air

2. Poor air quality (an inversion)

3. Viral infections

Since we have an abundance of these three things in Utah during the winter, right now tends to be the worst time of year for asthma.

If you have asthma, there are four things that you should be doing to keep asthma symptoms under control and potentially prevent asthma attacks:

Asthma Control Tip 1: Exercise indoors. I know, I know – running or walking on a treadmill is not nearly as enjoyable as running or walking outside.  However, aerobic exercise in the cold, winter air frequently brings on exercise-induced asthma in those who are at all susceptible to it.  This applies even more so if we have a winter inversion in place!  This last summer, I saw many patients who were having breathing problems because of the smoke in the air.  As bad as the smoke from forest fires was or can be, the trapped car exhaust and other pollutants in an inversion is usually worse.  Your lungs will thank you if you get a membership at the local gym and exercise inside until after Valentine’s Day. 

Asthma Control Tip 2: Make sure that you are taking any regular, preventive asthma medicines daily.  The best medicines for asthma are the daily, preventive ones. They all take a while to ‘kick in’ and have full effect.  Preventative asthma medications can eventually help if you want to wait and start using them daily at the first sign of problems, but they work best if you are already using them consistently before problems arise.  If your asthma prescriptions need refilling – now is the time to see your physician and get new ones.  If you are one of the ‘lucky’ patients with asthma who usually don’t have problems in the winter, at least make sure you have your asthma medications on hand – even if you aren’t using them regularly.  This includes the fast acting ‘rescue’ medicine albuterol.

Asthma Control Tip 3: See your doctor.  If it has been a while since you’ve seen your asthma doctor and had a physical exam and spirometry (pulmonary function tests) done, make an appointment. Many people with asthma are unaware of just how bad their asthma is until things get really bad.  If your asthma gets worse gradually, you may not notice that you’re doing worse, and what should be bothering you can feel like ‘normal’.  This is a very common problem in patients with asthma.  Being worse and unaware at the same time is more likely in the winter.  So, if it’s been a while since you were seen, call your asthma doctor and make an appointment.  Call today – right now!

Asthma Control Tip 4: Buy a condo in Hawaii and live there from December thru February!  Aloha! This way you get to experience a little snow here at the end of the year, and then come back just as the trees and flowers are starting to bloom.  Perfect.  Just in time to be seen for your spring allergies…..

Duane J. Harris M.D.
Intermountain Allergy & Asthma of Draper

New to Intermountain Allergy and Asthma?

If you suffer from asthma, now is a great time to consider starting professional asthma treatment.  Dr. Harris and Dr. Anderson accept new asthma patients of all ages and most insurance plans.  If you have questions about insurance coverage, please contact us Intermountain Allergy and Asthma at (801) 553-1900 (Dr. Harris) or (801) 476-0052 (Dr. Anderson) and we will be happy to assist you. 

If you don’t have health insurance, we offer a discount and monthly payment options. It is Dr. Harris’ and Anderson’s goal to provide the best medical treatment for their patients while working with patients to keep costs and payments reasonable. 

Thank you for allowing us Intermountain Allergy and Asthma to be part of your health care team – we look forward to seeing you!

2018: Expect Early Pollen Season this Year

Those with spring allergies should be prepared for the onset of symptoms at any time!

Early spring is the time that the trees pollinate. If you have early or mid-spring allergies, it is most likely due to tree pollen.  In a typical year, this pollination starts in late February or early March.  In past years, when there has been a mid-January thaw, we have occasionally noticed tree pollen starting earlier, in mid-February, sometime after things have thoroughly frozen again, and with snow on the ground.  This year, there wasn’t just a mid-January thaw, but almost an entire January thaw — we expect to see early pollen. 

Pollen Count Check

At Intermountain Allergy and Asthma, we will start checking for pollen at the latest by the 12th of February.  The first tree pollen that we expect to see is Elm, followed quickly by Cottonwood, and then a wide variety of assorted tree pollens.  In a ‘typical’ spring, the tree pollen season will be at its peak from late March through mid-April, but that can be quite variable.  Be aware that the trees from the St. George (Southern Utah) area may start pollinating several weeks earlier than in Northern Utah. Those who like to go to Utah’s Dixie in the early spring may have significant problems with trees or plants that are not active yet in this area. 

When Should I Start Taking My Allergy Medication or Seek Treatment?

For those with spring allergies, we recommend having allergy medicines on hand, and consider starting them now.  Some medicines (nasal steroids) take several days or even a few weeks to reach full effect.  Don’t wait until your allergy symptoms are full blown and you are miserable to start using them.  If you use any prescription allergy medications, now is the time to get in to see your allergist for refills.  Once the allergy season is here in full force, it gets very busy here at Intermountain Allergy and Asthma and it can take longer to be seen.  If you are an allergy patient of Dr. Harris in Draper, please call (801) 553-1900 to schedule an appointment.  If you are an allergy patient of Dr. Anderson in Ogden, please call (801) 476-0052 to schedule an appointment. 

New to Intermountain Allergy and Asthma?

If you suffer from allergies and have never seen an allergist, now is a great time to consider starting professional allergy treatment.  Dr. Harris and Dr. Anderson accept new allergy patients of all ages and most insurance plans. If you have questions about insurance coverage, please contact Intermountain Allergy and Asthma at (801) 553-1900 (Dr. Harris) or (801) 476-0052 (Dr. Anderson) and we will be happy to assist you.

We are aware that the insurance plans currently offered in the health care market have high deductibles and patients pay more money out-of-pocket for medical care than ever before.  Intermountain Allergy and Asthma offers monthly payment options for balances that insurance doesn’t cover.  If you don’t have insurance we offer a 20% discount and monthly payment options. It is Intermountain Allergy and Asthma’s goal to provide the best medical treatment for Dr. Harris’ and Anderson’s patients while working with insurance companies and patients to keep costs and payments reasonable.

Thank you for allowing Intermountain Allergy and Asthma to be part of your health care team – we look forward to seeing you!

Check our website regularly – intermountainallergy.com – we will start posting the pollen count as soon as we see significant amounts of pollen.

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