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High Pollen from Blooming Trees Making for Rough Allergy Season

Tree buds are starting to blossom at Frank Melville Memorial park in East Setauket on April 25, 2024. Credit: Elizabeth Sagarin

By Robert Brodsky

robert.brodsky@newsday.com

Updated May 7, 2024 8:05 pm

Attention Long Island seasonal allergy sufferers: If your eyes are feeling itchy this week, your nose is running and you're coughing and sneezing more, you're not alone.

As New York enters the peak of allergy season, which typically begins around March and can continue through October, pollen counts on the Island are expected to be well above moderate levels nearly every day for the next two weeks, according to the Weather Channel and other websites that track pollen.

In fact, tree pollen counts, one of the leading allergy offenders during the spring, reached “high” levels on Tuesday and will continue there on Wednesday.

“This will probably be a difficult week for allergy sufferers for a variety of reasons, most notably the double whammy of warm weather combined with the high pollen count,” said Dr. Gina Coscia, an allergist and immunologist at Cohen Children’s Medical Center. “As temperatures increase, plants and trees are more likely to pollinate and wind only serves to increase the problem as the pollens spreads.”

Typically in the winter season, there is a long period of freezing weather where most plant life goes dormant.

But with yet another mild winter in the region, and the early onset of warmer weather, some plants and trees started budding early again this year, leading to an earlier-than-expected allergy season, experts said.

“Climate change is thought to be affecting our allergy seasons, creating longer and stronger allergy seasons,” said Shaan Waqar, an allergist and immunologist based in Plainview. “We just had a very warm winter across the United States causing plants to bloom earlier. Last year was similar with also an early and long allergy season.”

There are three predominant types of pollen.

Earlier in the spring, tree pollen is the main culprit for most seasonal allergies; followed by grass in the spring and summer and then weeds, such as ragweed, from the end of August to the first frost.

Grass and ragweed pollen levels on Long Island are moderate or low this week, according to allergists and other health care professionals from Fordham University, which tracks the downstate region's pollen levels.

Allergy tips

Experts offered some simple ways to make it through peak allergy season:

  • Keep your windows closed at home and in the car
  • Avoid going out when pollen counts are the highest
  • Limit outdoor activities between 6 and 10 a.m. on days when pollen counts are high
  • Change clothes once you return home from being outside
  • Use over-the-counter nasal sprays and antihistamines, which can help relieve symptoms
  • Wear sunglasses, which can be helpful for prevention of eye symptoms when outdoors

By Robert Brodsky

Robert Brodsky is a breaking news reporter who has worked at Newsday since 2011. He is a Queens College and American University alum.

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