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Pollen Signals Start Of Allergy Season

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CARY — Allergies keep more than 50 million Americans sneezing almost all year long, and they are at their worst right now in the Triangle.

For the last few weeks, Dr. Dave Judge has been seeing nearly four times the normal number of patients for allergies.

"This is the worst season for the last so many years, so this time people have a lot more allergies than even last year," Judge says.

Pine pollen is to blame to a certain extent, but it is not the main culprit. Oak trees are.

"Oak is very allergenic," Judge says. "A lot of people, a lot of patients suffer because of the oak, and they are severe allergies."

Azaleas may look like a pollen factory, but they are not the worst of your problems. Don Risser, owner of Buchanan's Nursery, says the long blooming season from January through April can cause serious problems.

"For the worst of those trees that cause pollen allergies, I guess the majority of it is early March to mid- to late-April so you've got about a six- to eight-week window in there," Risser says.

For allergy sufferers with a green thumb, gardening is worth the grief.

"They'll be picking up plants and sneezing and wiping their nose, and they're still buying plants," Risser says. "It doesn't slow them down."

To make the time more bearable, here are some things people should remember:
  • Pollen sticks to everything, so change clothes and shower after being outdoors.
  • Keep your windows closed.
  • Use recirculating air conditioning in your car.
  • Be wary of your pets. Even if you are not allergic to your pets, they could be covered with pollen.
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    Lynda Loveland, Reporter
    Chad Flowers, Photographer
    Kamal Wallace, Web Editor

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