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WATERLOO — All around Iowa plants are growing and blooming — a beautiful things for the eyes, but not so much for noses.

High winds and blooming trees sent folks with allergies to tissues boxes around the Cedar Valley over the weekend, and there’s more misery on the way.

“The trees are starting to bud out, and we’ve got patients coming now,” said Dr. David Congdon of Cedar Valley Medical Specialists. Congdon is an ear, nose and throat specialist. He’s seen his share of allergy sufferers recently.

“In the last week or two we’ve had way more folks coming in complaining about allergy symptoms,” he said.

Those symptoms include itchy eyes, scratchy throats, runny noses, coughing and sneezing.

Pollen counts over the weekend were high and are expected to increase throughout the week, according to Pollen.com.

“It’s spiking up here in just the last week or two, and then it’s supposed to go up for the rest of the week and the weekend,” Congdon said. “It’s a little higher than usual, but as far as this time of the year, this is when we see it.”

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Many sufferers find relief with over-the-counter medications, Congdon said.

“Some things you get over the counter now you couldn’t before, like Flonase, Claritin and Zyrtec. But for patients with real severe allergies a lot of those things aren’t enough, and then it’s time to see an allergist.”

Congdon offers prescription allergy drops, which are placed under the tongue twice a day to treat symptoms.

Strong wind gusts of 35 to 40 miles per hour and a dry weather before Monday’s rain contributed to the high pollen count recorded over the weekend.

“It’s been dry lately,” said Cory Martin, National Weather Service meteorologist. “We haven’t seen a lot of precipitation across the state so far this month.”

During times of high pollen counts, sleeping with the windows open gives symptoms a head start. It’s best to nip them in the bud, Congdon said.

“When you are out and about, treat yourself with a Claritin or Zyrtec before you go out,” Congdon said. “After you have an allergic reaction you’re just playing catchup if you take it at that point. So it’s always good to take it before you get exposed.”

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