Oregon's allergy season has begun. We spoke with Dr. Jason Friesen from Oregon Allergy Associates about how this year's pollen is behaving differently than in past years.
Q: How has this year's weather impacted the release of pollen in the valley? How does that impact allergic reactions?
A: This year it affected the tree season. Usually, trees will give off their pollen at different times but because it was kind of cold and wet and then we had a week of nice weather, all the trees decided to go all at once and we had a very high count, which affected a lot of people.
Q: Are you anticipating when the warm weather returns, increased pollen levels will come with it?
A: We are getting into grass season and that's our biggest concern in the Willamette Valley with the agricultural growing of grass. We may be delayed again this year because it has been a cool spring overall, but we could also with some nice weather and see things pop at any time.
Q: Grass pollen is the biggest contributor to allergic reactions in the valley. When do you anticipate seeing the most grass pollen in the air?
A: We're starting to see some of the wild grass pollen in the air. Just this week, we saw some of the first grass pollens, so there is some grass in the air, but the grass pollen that comes with agricultural farming has not arrived yet. Traditionally, that will come sometime after Memorial Day.
Q: What does it mean when you see the first wild grass pollen?
A: It tells us it's coming, so this is the time to start getting on your allergy meds, or at least be ready.
Q: How busy has Oregon Allergy Associates been, now that the weather has begun to warm up?
A: It's been such a cool spring that things were delayed. Then we had that week of nice weather last week and everything popped at once, and our day got busy quickly. We have patients that are experiencing symptoms now who may have experienced this month ago in other years.
Q: What should people with allergies be on the lookout for?
A: Weather that's pleasant in the seventies or eighties is good for grass to give off pollen. If it's windy this in afternoon it could blow the pollen around and affect people more. Once it gets too hot the pollen will die down again and the rain can usually clear the pollen out but occasionally the rain makes the pollen fragment and can give people asthma if they're prone to it.