The big sneeze: Allergies come early

The recent heat streak coaxed buds and blossoms into being, but without the freeze, there's an early onset of sneeze and wheeze. And you'd better hang onto your tissues. This weekend's pollen count in the Tri-Cities is projected to be the highest it has been all season.
Marie Havenga
Apr 7, 2012

According to Pollen.com, the pollen count today will hit 7.7 out of 12, and is expected to ratchet up to 8.7 on Sunday.

It could be a long season for area allergy sufferers – who say their symptoms usually don't surface until several weeks from now.

“They have been extremely bad,” said Spring Lake Village resident Lisa VanStrate. “Even my poor dog is suffering. He's got chronic allergies and they came on a lot sooner for him, too.”

VanStrate and Buster aren't alone, according to Dr. Frederick DeTorres of Norton Shores' Shoreline Allergy.

DeTorres said there are more than 40 million allergy sufferers in the nation and another 25 million asthmatics.

“Absolutely the spring season came early this year,” DeTorres said. “Everything is in bloom right now. I don't recall a spring this early.”

Oak, poplar and mulberry trees are causing the most respiratory stress in Grand Haven, according to the Weather Channel.

DeTorres said he's seeing patients that he hasn't seen in a decade or longer. The combination of hot, dry and windy has led to pronounced pollen problems. Wind can sheer pollen into smaller fragments, which then are inhaled.

“It will throw people,” DeTorres said. “I'm seeing people that used to be pretty controlled in the spring. They're coming in with miserable symptoms. Normally, I wouldn't be seeing these symptoms for another month probably.”

Grand Haven resident Dale Kwekel said he's about six weeks ahead of when his allergies normally cause problems.

“I've been sneezing incessantly – 12 to 18 times at a time,” said Kwekel, who owns the Grand Haven Garden House and makes his living working with plants. “I've had allergies since I was just a little feller.”

To read more of this story, see today’s print or e-edition of the Grand Haven Tribune.

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