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More pollen in Central Florida? Doctors seeing more allergy complaints

 Oak Tree Pollen, also known as catkins.
Belen Bilgic Schneider
Creative Commons License
Oak Tree Pollen, also known as catkins.

Two weeks ago, Orlando resident Alisia Compton woke up struggling to breathe. Her feet were swollen.

She knew what it must be.

“I usually have mild allergies this time of year but it’s definitely worse this year, ” Compton said.

Central Florida is covered in yellow and brown dust. Oak tree pollen clusters, known as catkins, have been prolific in recent weeks causing residents and visitors with sensitive allergies mild to severe discomfort.

Compton drove to an urgent care and was told to take three steroids a day for five days to decrease inflammation. Compton reduced the pills a couple of days later only to find her symptoms exacerbated.

In a particularly heavy pollen season, more patients are seeking relief from the dry dust, said Dr. Erin Bowers an Orlando Health Pediatrician.

I don't think many people were prepared this year for that as the allergies have been,” Bowers said. “And usually, when we get some rain in the springtime it helps clear all of that dust in the pollen but because it's been so dry lately, we haven't really had that clearance so all the pollen that's sitting around.”

Half of all of Bowers’ patients, about 20 a week, have reported mild to severe allergy symptoms thanks to pollen.

“The most important thing I tell all my patients is when we're outside to make sure that when we come inside we take off our clothes and if we can wash our hair because all that pollen is sitting on us just like it's sitting on our cars,” Bowers said.

AdventHealth Centra Care locations saw the number of allergy patients double during the second week of March, with an increase in cases involving eczema and hives, according to Jeff Grainger, an AdventHealth spokesperson.

Bowers also says changing your home and car’s air filter can help. For those experiencing severe symptoms over-the-counter oral antihistamines, and nasal sprays can offer immediate relief. Nasal steroids can decrease inflammation but will not offer speedy results

According to Pollen.com, pollen forecasts were high at the start of the week but should decrease to medium levels by the upcoming weekend. The National Weather Service is predicting medium to high odds of showers on Thursday and Friday. However, Sunday is looking to have a return to high levels of pollen.

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Joe Mario Pedersen