After a mild winter, there was no mistaking allergy season’s early arrival to the ‘Burg this year.
St. Petersburg’s tree pollen normally peaks in mid-March, followed by grass pollen in late May
and finally weed pollen in mid-June. It was no later than February, though, and our freshly
waxed vehicles were already covered with a yellow film of tree pollen every other day and
patients were filling up doctor’s waiting rooms with complaints of seasonal allergy ailments.
Seasonal allergies, also known as Hay Fever, occur when the trees, grasses, and weeds
release tiny pollen particles into the air and affect a sensitive individual’s immune system. An
allergic reaction develops, causing symptoms ranging from sneezing, congestion, runny nose
(allergic rhinitis), irritated and itchy eyes (allergic conjunctivitis) to unproductive cough, and
allergic asthma. Impaired senses of taste and smell, sleep disturbances and exhaustion may
also be attributed to seasonal allergies.
Although tree pollen’s fury has for the most part dissipated, many allergy sufferers are still
feeling the wrath left by grass and weed pollen. If you find yourself sneezing up a storm while
trying to enjoy the Florida weather, take comfort in knowing that there are a number of ways to
The easiest, and most obvious way, is to avoid the culprit. Staying indoors (especially on windy
days), keeping windows and doors shut along with keeping dirty laundry that has absorbed
any pollen in a contained space all helps. Fortunately, you don’t have to imagine a summer
spent confined to your home; St. Petersburg’s daily summer showers alleviate some of allergies
headache since pollen counts are lowest after rainfall.
There are also over-the-counter medications one can take such as Benadryl, Claritin, and
Zyrtec. These drugs block the effects of our body’s histamines, the cause of sneezing, runny
noses and watery eyes. Nasal decongestants, another class of drugs, can relieve any sinus
pressure and pain caused by congestion.
As always, should you have any questions or concerns regarding allergies or persistent allergy-
like symptoms, consult with a medical doctor.